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New Crusaders Coach Confirmed Ahead of New Season

The Crusaders have decided to look overseas once again for a new coach and it’s a bit of a surprise who they’ve gone for

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Former Wales international Mark Jones has been confirmed as the new defence coach for reigning Super Rugby champions the Crusaders.

Jones has been signed on a two year dual contract and will also oversee the Canterbury attack as coach during the Super Rugby off-season. 

Although Crusaders are yet to make an official announcement regarding Jones, the man himself has spoken on the move to Wales online and is delighted to have the opportunity to work in New Zealand

“It’s a huge opportunity and the welcome I have had in New Zealand has been fantastic. Without being disrespectful to other rugby clubs, the Crusaders are probably regarded as the best rugby organisation in the world. So for them to feel I can add value means a lot. I’m a team defence coach with the Crusaders, while I’ll also be running the attack and the backs with Canterbury in the Mitre Cup at the end of the season. So it’s a dual role that allows me to stay out here all year round. I’ve spent a couple of weeks with them already and they are everything others have said they’d be, with open-minded people who are great off the pitch and smart on it. It’s a unique environment and it’s been a pleasure so far,” he said. 

After a playing career in which he won 47-caps for Wales, which was cut short through knee injuries, Jones went on to coach in the Welsh Premiership as well as having stints inside the Wales and Namibia set-ups. 

The move has had a bit of backlash from fans with other Super Rugby sides promoting coaches from within New Zealand, with the 40-year-old following on from former Ireland star Ronan O’Gara as an overseas coach. 

Either way Jones will be hoping he can help head coach Scott Robertson oversee a fourth successive Super Rugby title win during the 2020 season.

Super Rugby

Kolisi Hoping for Menality Shift in SA’s Super Rugby Sides

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi is predicting a better season for the South African based Super Rugby sides following the country’s recent Rugby World Cup win

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(Photo by Shaun Roy/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi is hoping that South Africa’s Rugby World Cup win last year will have a positive effect on the country’s Super Rugby teams this season.

South Africa have four representatives in the competition in Kolisi’s Stormers side, the Lions, Sharks and Bulls, but they have failed to claim a title between them in 10 years and they have failed to produce results against the New Zealand-based sides. 

However, on the international stage things seem to have changed and Kolisi believes the mental effect of winning the World Cup could change things at club-level. 

“All these games are about mentality. You want to go there and say you’re going to win all the games, I think that should be the attitude. Us winning that game in Wellington gave us that mentality. When we go on tour, we want to win every game. We don’t want to aim for this one or that one. In most of the teams I’ve played for in the past, you already lose before you get off the plane because you’re choosing which games you’re going to win,” he said while speaking to Sport24. 

South Africa’s World Cup glory saw them match the All Blacks on three Webb Ellis Cups overall, despite playing in a tournament less. 

That win came on the back of the Boks winning 36-34 in Wellington in 2018, which clearly had a positive effect on the side as they came back to snatch a 16-16 draw a year on with only seconds remaining away to them again. 

The draw last year helped them claim a Rugby Championship title, but it showed how much the win the previous year has changed the squad’s attitude towards facing their New Zealand counterparts away from home

Although the 28-year-old has always put his all into every game, but he thinks that now others may have further motivation when against the New Zealand sides. 

“I have played against New Zealand teams many times and they have always pitched up and I don’t think much is going to change there. I think what will motivate the guys to play is that some have left so there are open spaces, and everyone will want to perform,” he added. 

Kolisi and his Stormers side are currently getting ready to take on the Hurricanes in the opening round of this year’s competition on February 1st, with the Stormers at home, but it will be interesting to see if there is a change in attitude when they head to New Zealand throughout the season.

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Super Rugby

O’Connor Poised for Reds Start

James O’Connor could be ready to make his first appearance for the Queensland Reds in five years over the weekend

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Wallabies star James O’Connor looks set to make his first appearance for the Queensland Reds in five years against the Melbourne Rebels on Friday.

The two teams are set to play a preseason game ahead of the upcoming Super Rugby season and following time spent in both France and England O’Connor has been included in the Reds squad. 

O’Connor was re-signed by the Reds last summer from Sale Sharks, which allowed him the chance to be selected for the Wallabies Rugby World Cup squad. 

He managed to be picked by former head coach Michael Cheika and played his part in their journey to the quarter-finals. 

However, despite his role with the national side the utility-back has a point to prove back in his homeland at club-level and is being tasked with helping the Reds reach the knock–out stages of the competition for the first time in seven seasons. 

As well as that he has to impress incoming Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie, who takes over in the summer, handing O’Connor another clean slate. 

Elsewhere in the Reds squad he is joined by fellow Wallabies Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Taniela Tupou and Liam Wright, while star duo Izack Rodda and Jordan Petaia have been rested along with new signing Henry Speight. 

Despite a number of high-profile names on either side of the pitch on Friday there is no doubt that all eyes will be on O’Connor, who will need to produce if he wants to feature in the team’s opening Super Rugby game against the Brumbies in a couple of week’s time.

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Rugby Transfer Rumours

Welsh Ace Set for Super Rugby Move

One of Wales’ longest serving players is on the verge of heading to Super Rugby according to reports

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Welsh centre Jamie Roberts is set for a move to Super Rugby outfit the Stormers according to reports.

In a report by news outlet Rapport, Roberts has been keen on a move for over a year now, having wanted to head to the Stormers last season, but it appears as though his wish might come true this time around. 

Roberts hopes to be given more playing time in South Africa and has the ambition of playing for the British and Irish Lions for a third tour when they head to South Africa next year. 

The 97-cap Welsh international has found minutes hard to come by in Bath’s midfield and feels and with Stormers head coach John Dobson hinting at a possible new arrival last week it seems like Roberts could be the man. 

It would make sense for the Stormers to sign player of Roberts quality in midfield as they are currently looking light in the centre due to injuries and departures. 

Springbok centre and Rugby World Cup winner Damien de Allende tops the list of players to have left the franchise, moving to Japan to play for the Panasonic Wild Knights, while JJ Engelbrecht has also headed to Japan to play for the Sunwolves in their final Super Rugby season. While Dan Kriel left for rivals the Lions. 

Of the current bunch Daniel du Plessis is injured and there is a chance that Ruhan Nel may be absent come the latter stages of the season as he prepares for the Tokyo Olympics with the Blitzboks. 

All and all Roberts would be a welcome addition, and could come up against another former Lions player in Ben Te’o, who joined the Sunwolves in the summer as the southern hemisphere teams look to Europe for top talent.

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