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Super Rugby: Season Preview, initial thoughts.

A look ahead to the 2019 Campaign

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Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images

Entertainment central on the Chiefs wings

The Chiefs have two absolutely box-office wingers in their squad for this year’s Super season; Japanese international Ataata Moeakiola  and Etene Nanai-Seturo, fresh off the World Sevens circuit.

Moeakiola burst onto the scene in 2016 at the World Rugby U20s, scoring a hat-trick within 30 minutes against South Africa. The Tongan-born wing performed to the point that he was being compared to Jonah Lomu. The 23 year old is quite a physical specimen; he stands 185cm and weighs in at 110kg. This will be Moeakiola’s debut in Super Rugby; he was on the books at the Sunwolves since 2017, but university rugby for Tokai took priority. It will be fascinating to see how the big man adapts to top level rugby, given that it is nearly three years since we saw him at U20 level.


If Ataata Moeakiola is Jonah Lomu, then Etene Nanai-Seturo is Christian Cullen. The 19 year old from Auckland is a much smaller operator than his Japanese compatriot, coming in at just under 90kg and six foot. He is similar in ways to Nehe Milner-Skudder when he first broke through, he is one hell of a stepper, and is one of those players that makes things happen, there is a sense of anticipation when he gets hands on the ball, as those who watched him play for Counties Manukau in this years Mitre 10 Cup are well aware. He showcased his try-scoring ability last weekend, with two tries, simple finishes as they were


Nanai-Seturo was the subject of legal battle when he was younger; he was contracted by the New Zealand Warriors as a 15 year-old, but after he had a change of heart, an agreement was reached between New Zealand Rugby and the Warriors to allow him to join New Zealand Sevens.

Break up with Nick Phipps, I’m Bored

The Rugby Championship was a tough one for Australia, and in particular the much-maligned Waratahs out-half Bernard Foley. Undroppable for Cheika in the past, Foley lost his spot to Kurtley Beale for a couple games. This weekend sees two potential Wallaby half-back pairings face off; Christian Leali’ifano and Joe Powell start for the Brumbies, opposite Will Genia and Quade Cooper for the Melbourne Rebels.

It’s been a difficult couple of seasons for Quade Cooper; he spent time playing for Souths rugby and Brisbane in the NRC after being told he was not part of Brad Thorn’s plans for the Reds. An attempt to make it into the Australian Sevens squad in 2016 didn’t pan out, and two year contract with Toulon ended prematurely.

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Cooper’s contract with the Rebels is a lifeline, and his World Cup hopes are greatly benefitted by the fact that he’ll be playing every week opposite Cheika’s first choice scrum-half Will Genia. Half-backs are the source of a lot of Australia’s difficulties. Cheika’s policy of a 6/2 split on the bench means that there is almost never specialist out-half cover on the bench for Australia, Kurtley Beale is the backup. Beale has a lot of good qualities, but he is not a Test level out-half. Quade looked good in Rebels colours last weekend, and if he can get into a good run, it would be very hard to ignore him for a spot in the World Cup

The continued selection of Nick Phipps is also not good for Australia, considering he does not even start for the Waratahs regularly (Jake Gordon does). Joe Powell and Jake Gordon are both young, talented scrum-halves and the sooner Michael Cheika realises that he needs a scrum-half and out-half on the bench, and that he needs to delete Nick Phipps’ number off his phone, the better Australia will be come Japan this Autumn.

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Guess who’s back?

Nonu is back folks. Turning 37 this summer, the legendary All Black started last weekend in the Blues midfield outside TJ Faiane. Nonu didn’t look the quickest, understandably, but he was making big hits and carried hard. Many people expected Nonu to retire after he left Toulon for family reasons but he will line out for the Blues this season in what his third stint in Auckland, after the 2012 and 2014 seasons. Nonu will be part of what is quite a tasty backline for the Blues this year; he will form a seriously destructive partnership with Sonny Bill Williams, and will have some lightning pace outside him, with likes of Melani Nanai and Rieko Ioane.

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Nonu is hopeful of making it to the World Cup. He has said that he learned how to take better care of his body during his three years in France, is a goal for him during this Super Rugby season. He’ll have his work cut out for him however, with the likes of Sonny Bill, Ngani Laumape, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Anton Lienert-Brown all in contention for a spot.

Will anyone stop the Crusaders?

In the eyes of many, the Crusaders are the best club team in world rugby. A club world cup like football has is something every rugby fan would love to see, the men from Canterbury lining out against Dublin’s finest, or a reenactment of the ancient battles from which the teams get their names, the Saracens taking a stand against the Crusaders.

Crusaders have been dominating Super Rugby for the last two seasons, going for the three in a row this year. It has been the Lions that have come closest, they were beaten finalists in 2017 and 2018. It is hard to see anyone beating the Crusaders to the title this year. Depth wise, they have the most impressive squad in Super Rugby. An all international pack, combined with some of the most exciting young backs coming through in New Zealand, Crusaders will be great to watch this year.

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Most exciting to see are full-back Will Jordan, and halfback Ere Enari. Jordan has long been earmarked for stardom and coach Scott Robertson is excited to see him make his Super Rugby debut, telling Stuff.co.nz

“”Obviously a prodigious talent. You could see in the pre-season, his ability to beat players and take opportunities, he’s definitely got an eye for a gap and a bit of extra speed. He’s a good local boy, he always dreamed of being a Crusader, so it’s a dream for him this weekend.”

Ere Enari has had a torrid time with injuries over the past couple of years, suffering three leg breaks in the space of two years. Like Jordan, he is a star in waiting, who has had to bide his time before making it to Super Rugby, if he can string a good run of games together, it won;t be long before we see him wearing black.

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Also worth a watch are Manasa Mataele and George Bridge, both wingers, and Braydon Ennor in the midfield. Ennor in particular looks like a serious player; searing pace, and along with a highly intelligent rugby brain. It will be interesting to see if Richie Mo’unga can build on the calls for him to be given the All Black first five jersey, after his impressive Rugby Championship appearances, and his combining with Beaudy Barrett at full-back.

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Super Rugby

Super Rugby Trans Tasman Teams: All the team news for Round One

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Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images

Super Rugby Trans Tasman is finally upon us as the Australian and New Zealand teams battle it out for supremacy.

The Reds and Crusaders loom as the two key teams to beat after their respective success in Super Rugby AU and Aotearoa.

Watch every minute of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman on Stan Sport. Start your Free Sport Trial Now

Check out below for all the team news as it drops.

NOTE: ALL TEAMS WILL BE CONFIRMED 48 HOURS BEFORE THE RESPECTIVE GAMES.

Friday 14 May 5:05 pm AEST – Highlanders v Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport

CLICK HERE FOR FULL TEAM DETAILS

HIGHLANDERS (1-15): Ayden Johnstone, Ash Dixon (co-c), Siate Tokolahi, Pari Pari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Hugh Renton, Billy Harmon, Kazuki Himeno, Aaron Smith (co-c), Mitch Hunt, Jona Nareki, Scott Gregory, Michael Collins, Sio Tomkinson, Sam Gilbert

Reserves: Liam Coltman, Ethan De Groot, Josh Hohneck, Bryn Evans, James Lentjes, Kayne Hammington, Tim O’Malley, Ngatugnane Punivai

INs: Tim O’Malley, Ngatugnane Punivai, Pari Pari Parkinson

OUTs: Shannon Frizell, Josh Ioane, Manaaki Selby-Rickit

REDS (1-15): Dane Zander, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Feao Fotuaika, Ryan Smith, Angus Blyth, Angus Scott-Young, Liam Wright (co-c), Seru Uru, Kalani Thomas, James O’Connor (co-c), Jock Campbell, Hamish Stewart, Josh Flook, Filipo Daugunu, Bryce Hegarty

Reserves: Josh Nasser, Harry Hoopert, Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Fraser McReight, Moses Sorovi, Isaac Henry, Suliasi Vunivalu

INs: Josh Nasser, Moses Sorovi, Harry Hoopert, Suliasi Vunivalu, Angus Blyth

OUTs: Alex Mafi, Tate McDermott, Zane Nonggorr, Jordan Petaia, Harry Wilson

The crazy last few seconds of an epic decider.

Friday 14 May 7:45 pm AEST – Waratahs v Hurricanes at SCG, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport

Want to get to the game? Make sure you’ve got your tickets beforehand!

WARATAHS (1-15): Angus Bell, David Porecki, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Hugh Sinclair, Max Douglas, Lachie Swinton, Charlie Gamble, Will Harris, Jake Gordon (c), Ben Donaldson, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, Alex Newsome, Jack Maddocks

Reserves: Joe Cotton, Tetera Faulkner, Darcy Breen, Jeremy Williams, Carlo Tizzano, Jack Grant, Will Harrison, Tepai Moeroa

INs: Tepai Moeroa, Will Harrison, Jeremy Williams

OUTs: James Ramm, Tane Edmed, Sam Caird

HURRICANES (1-15): Xavier Numia, Dane Coles (c), Alex Fidow, James Blackwell, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Reed Prinsep, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Devan Flanders, Luke Campbell, Ruben Love, Salesi Rayasi, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Billy Proctor, Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett

Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Tevita Mafileo, Tyrel Lomax, Liam Mitchell, Brayden Iose, Jonathan Taumateine, Orbyn Leger, Pepesana Patafilo

INs: Liam Mitchell, Jonathan Taumateine, Orbyn Leger, Tevita Mafileo

OUTs: Scott Scrafton, Fraser Armstrong, Ngani Laumape, Fraser Armstrong

Perese brilliance earns Tahs try

Saturday 15 May 5:05 pm AEST – Crusaders v Brumbies at OrangeTheory Stadium, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport

CRUSADERS (1-15): TBC

Reserves: TBC

INs: TBC

OUTs: TBC

BRUMBIES (1-15): TBC

Reserves: TBC

INs: TBC

OUTs: TBC

Brumbies open up the Reds for the opening try of the Final.

Saturday 15 May 7:45 pm AEST – Rebels v Blues at AAMI Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport and LIVE on 9Gem

Want to get to the game? Make sure you’ve got your tickets beforehand!

REBELS (1-15): TBC

Reserves: TBC

INs: TBC

OUTs: TBC

BLUES (1-15): TBC

Reserves: TBC

INs: TBC

OUTs: TBC

Rebels score their fastest try in Super Rugby history

Saturday 15 May 9:45 pm AEST – Force v Chiefs at HBF Park, ad-free, live and on demand on Stan Sport

Want to get to the game? Make sure you’ve got your tickets beforehand!

FORCE (1-15): TBC

Reserves: TBC

INs: TBC

OUTs: TBC

CHIEFS (1-15): TBC

Reserves: TBC

INs: TBC

OUTs: TBC

Source – Australia Rugby

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Sky Super Rugby Trans-Tasman: Referee Appointments Round 1

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(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

The much-anticipated opening round of Sky Super Rugby Trans-Tasman kicks off this weekend, with the Highlanders and Super Rugby AU champion Reds to face off in the competition opener on Friday night in Dunedin.

It will be the ultimate homecoming for Reds coach Brad Thorn, who was born in Mosgiel and played for the Highlanders back in 2013 and 2014.

In the weekend’s other fixtures, the Hurricanes are away to the Waratahs, the champion Crusaders host Super Rugby AU runners’ up, the Brumbies. The Blues travel to Melbourne to take on the Rebels and the Chiefs have the big trip to Perth to face Richard Kahui’s Western Force.

Here are your referees for Round 1.

 

Highlanders v Reds

Friday 14 May, 7:05pm

Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe

Assistant 1: James Doleman

Assistant 2: Angus Mabey

TMO: Mike Fraser

Waratahs v Hurricanes

Friday 14 May, 9:45pm

Sydney Cricket Ground

Referee: Nic Berry

Assistant 1: Amy Perrett

Assistant 2: Angus Gardner

TMO: James Leckie

Crusaders v Brumbies

Saturday 15 May, 7:05pm

Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch

Referee: Paul Williams

Assistant 1: James Doleman

Assistant 2: Dan Waenga

TMO: Glenn Newman

Rebels v Blues

Saturday 15 May, 9:45pm

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Referee: Brendon Pickerill

Assistant 1: Amy Perrett

Assistant 2: Reuben Keane

TMO: Ian Smith

Force v Chiefs

Saturday 15 May, 11:55pm

HBF Park, Perth

Referee: Damon Murphy

Assistant 1: Graham Cooper

Assistant 2: Jordan Way

TMO: Brett Cronan

Source – All Blacks Rugby

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Transfer fee involved in Siya Kolisi move to the Sharks

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

There had been rumblings for some time now that Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi was looking an exit from the DHL Stormers after an 11 year stint with the Western Province with The Cell C Sharks touted as his desired destination.

Kolisi signed with Western Province Rugby straight out of school, spending his entire professional career with Western Province Rugby Institute. Kolisi was not long in making an impact after making a try-scoring debut for the DHL Stormers in the opening game of the 2012 Super Rugby campaign, coming on as an injury replacement for Springbok legend, Schalk Burger.

Kolisi was appointed DHL Stormers captain in 2017 and led the team for two full Vodacom Super Rugby campaigns before he was appointed Springbok captain in 2018. He ends his time at Western Province Rugby as the second-most capped DHL Stormers player, with the legendary Burger (123) the only player to have bettered his 118 Vodacom Super Rugby caps for the franchise.

Kolisi’s current contract was set to come to an end in October 2021 and although the WP did everything possible to re-sign him, he chose not to take it up and has been released early from his contract, upon acceptance of a transfer fee.

Earlier this week, The Sharks confirmed the signing of Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok captain, Siyamthanda Kolisi, who joins the Cell C Sharks on a multi-year deal. This huge signing has already made a huge difference in the Betway betting odds for the upcoming Rainbow Cup. Those who bet on rugby may now see Cell C Sharks as a realistic challenger with the addition of Kolisi to their roster.

Speaking at the transfer unveiling by the Sharks, Kolisi revealed that there has been a transfer fee to be paid to Western Province Rugby due to his early release and he had taken care of that himself.

He confirmed that The DHL Stormers had put a new offer on the table but that had been rejected.

Kolisi said: “I bought into the vision of the Sharks immediately – the energy around the club, the management set-up, the squad and the potential for success was so strong.

“I have always had a desire to be the best and play with the best to reach my potential on-and-off the field and this move is just another step in maximising what I can achieve within my career.

“This is a very exciting new chapter for me and my loved ones and one I’m embracing fully. I arrive with a commitment to give this team everything I have and I’m thankful to the Sharks for the opportunity. We can’t wait to see what Durban has to offer.”

A Sharks club statement from their website added: “Kolisi’s ongoing strong appetite to win trophies and better himself on the field matched with the Sharks’ strategic vision and defined blueprint for success. It drove Kolisi’s motivation to expand his horizons within SA rugby and embark on this exciting new chapter in Durban.”

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson wished Kolisi well and thanked him for his significant contributions over the years.

“Siya Kolisi will always be a DHL Stormers legend, his story is well-known throughout the world and everyone here is grateful to have played a role in that. We would have loved for him to stay and finish his career where it started, but we wish him all the best”

Kolisi said that he will always cherish the memories of his time with Western Province Rugby.

“I would like to thank everyone at Western Province Rugby for what has been an incredible time in my life in which I have grown as a rugby player and a person.

“All of the coaches, management and teammates who had such a big influence on me over the last 11 years and especially the DHL Stormers Faithful and people of Cape Town and beyond who made my time with the union so special. It has been a privilege to experience their support,” 

Kolisi becomes the second high profile transfer of Springboks this year involving a transfer fee after The Bulls confirmed the signing of Marcel Coetzee from Irish Province Ulster Rugby. Coetzee had a year remaining on his existing deal with Ulster and it’s been rumoured that The Bulls will have copped a sizeable payout to secure his services.

The Betway odds sure make for interesting reading for the upcoming Rainbow Cup. Can any of the newly added South African franchises topple Irish favourites Leinster? Or will the Ospreys from Wales find form again to be challengers? It’s sure going to be an interesting competition. Round 1 is scheduled to begin on April 17th.

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