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Thread: 2007 Super 14 thread

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    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    2007 Super 14 thread

    Because I know how much you people love the various rugby threads, here's another...


    Bit of a blurb I wrote about the Highlanders for another site - feel free to add your own:

    The lads in the Deep South only lose two players to the All Blacks' conditioning programme, but boy, will they miss the duo of Carl Hayman and Anton Oliver. Without the pair, a Highlanders scrum which always gains parity, and occasionally has dominance, looks considerably weaker.

    The intangible asset of experience is also lost while Hayman and Oliver are doing their glorified stretches, which makes this Highlanders side look part-youthful, part wide-eyed youngster.

    This youthful look is no more obvious than in the centres, where comparative veterans Seilala Mapusua and Neil Brew have departed, leaving new acquisition Aaron Bancroft, the injury-plagued Matt Saunders, the relatively inexperienced Jason Kawau and one-season Highlander Callum Bruce likely to share the midfield duties. The baby-faced appearance of the squad is just one of the problems facing coach Greg Cooper and his assistant coach, Glenn Moore. Their draw for the first few weeks of the competition is, to put it bluntly, a shocker.

    An opening-round encounter against the Western Force in Perth is the pre-cursor for a two-match tour of South Africa, switching from a match against the Lions on the high veldt to a sea-level clash against the Sharks the following week.

    What makes the trip all the more worse is the six-day turnaround from the Sharks match to a home game against the Stormers. The Highlanders struggled with a similar scenario last year, going down in a lethargic performance at Carisbrook to the Sharks, and Cooper can but only hope the young lads in his side have seemingly unlimited energy to find their way through it.

    The bye is nicely placed for the Highlanders almost halfway through the season and four home games in a row (including matches at Invercargill and Queenstown) will be a welcome double bonanza when factoring in the return of Hayman and Oliver following the bye.

    Their return at least means the Highlanders will be well-equipped for their final four games against the Super 14 heavyweights - the Crusaders, Waratahs, Hurricanes and Brumbies.

    The Highlanders have mostly stuck to their policy of selecting players from within the franchise, although Cooper has recruited wisely in the outside backs, picking up North Harbour speedster Vilame Waqaseduadua and Tasman flyer Luky Mulipola, while 30-year-old 2006 Air New Zealand Cup debutant Greg Zampach was rewarded for his handy form on the wing with selection.

    No team likes injuries and Cooper will perhaps be making a silent prayer to the rugby gods that Nick Evans is kept safe from injury, as the team suffered from his absence last season. While Bruce showed glimpses of talent in the 10 jersey, his ANZC season last year indicated he is better suited to 12 and works well in tandem with Evans. Besides, the back up - Charlie Hore - doesn't fill too many Highlanders supporters with confidence.

    The back five of the pack will be one strength, with James Ryan undoubtedly keen to keep himself in the All Blacks selectors' minds in World Cup year, although he'll be forming a new partnership, possibly with Kane Thompson or Hoani MacDonald this season with Tom Donnelly unavailable through injury.

    The loose forwards are quick. Josh Blackie and Craig Newby will keep all opposition backlines on their toes while keep an eye on young No 8 Ezra Taylor, who is the next big thing around the Dunedin rugby scene.

    Up front, a lot will fall on prop Clarke Dermody's shoulders with the absence of Hayman and Oliver for the first half of the season, and he too will be keen to further his cause for the All Blacks World Cup squad with a solid Super 14 season. Is young Southland prop Jamie Mackintosh ready for Super 14 rugby? His scrummaging in last year's Air New Zealand Cup would suggest not.

    Prospects:
    It's hard to see where the Highlanders' first win will come from, and therein lies the problem. There's a distinct possibility they could be running out to play the Reds on March 9 with only a few bonus points to show for five games. From there, the semi-finals will look an extremly long way away. No-one likes accepting mediocrity, but a mid-table finish of about eighth will be a useful campaign for this side.


    Schedule:
    Feb 2 - v Force at Perth
    Feb 11 - v Lions at Johannesburg
    Feb 18 - v Sharks at Durban
    Feb 24 - v Stormers at Dunedin
    Mar 2 - v Blues at Auckland
    Mar 9 - v Reds at Dunedin
    Mar 24 - v Bulls at Dunedin
    Mar 30 - v Cheetahs at Invercargill
    Apr 7 - v Chiefs at Queenstown
    Apr 14 - v Crusaders at Dunedin
    Apr 21 - v Waratahs at Sydney
    Apr 27 - v Hurricanes at Wellington
    May 5 - v Brumbies at Dunedin


    Team:
    Forwards - Alando Soakai, Anton Oliver, Carl Hayman, Chris King, Clarke Dermody Craig Newby, David Hall, Ezra Taylor, Filipo Levi, Hale T-Pole, Hoani MacDonald, James Ryan, Jamie Mackintosh, Jason MacDonald, Josh Blackie, Kane Thompson, Keith Cameron.
    Backs - Aaron Bancroft, Callum Bruce, Charlie Hore, Craig Clare, Glen Horton, Greg Zampach, Jason Kawau, Jimmy Cowan, Lucky Mulipola, Matt Saunders, Nick Evans, Toby Morland, Vilame Waqaseduadua.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Matteh's Avatar
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    Personally i'm going for Waratahs in this, doubt they'll do well tbh.
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    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    At first glances the Tahs have plenty going for them, but they've been struck by injuries to the second row and the front row, which was brittle enough already. Unfortunately, they've lucked out in the draw as well - they don't play any NZ teams until round 8, by which time the 22 All Blacks being rested for conditioning will be back with their Super 14 sides.

    On the positive side, they beat the Crusaders in a warm-up match last night (although not a great deal can be taken by this) and the wunderkind Kurtley Beale, 18, appears to be living up to the hype in the pre-season.

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    State Vice-Captain Right arm fast's Avatar
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    even though i hate the crusaders i still think they will do well even with some of their abs out. my pick for the title however is nsw they always look pretty good and this year im picking them to go all the way. hopefully the highlanders can crack the semis aswell but im not to confident
    CW Red


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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Perm's Avatar
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    Hoping the Southlanders playing for the Highlanders do well, Jimmy Cowan and Clarke Dermody will be vital to their cause. To be perfectly honest though, it's a bit early for rugby. We will have played about 3 or 4 rounds when the Cricket World Cup starts I think, still looking forward to seeing how the NZ teams fare without their All Blacks.

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    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    Yep - as VoltmanNZ

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    Englishman BoyBrumby's Avatar
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    Evans out for the Highlanders then. Not looking too rosy for Volts's boys...
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    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    I've already resigned myself to the fact we'll be propping up the bottom of the ladder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoyBrumby View Post
    Evans out for the Highlanders then. Not looking too rosy for Volts's boys...
    Where did you read this Brumbers? I heard he was out for the first game which isn't too serious.

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    Come on Tahs!

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    Hall of Fame Member TT Boy's Avatar
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    I'm in South Africa in March and have tickets (or will do in the next couple of weeks) for the Natal Sharks clashes with the Hurricanes and Brumbies. Should be excellent, though I don't fancy there chances much.

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    Englishman BoyBrumby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perm View Post
    Where did you read this Brumbers? I heard he was out for the first game which isn't too serious.
    Planet Rugby. But I only meant he's out of the first game.

    Linky.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoyBrumby View Post
    Planet Rugby. But I only meant he's out of the first game.

    Linky.
    Heard that on the Radio but the way you posted made it sound as if he was out for the season.

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    Englishman BoyBrumby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perm View Post
    Heard that on the Radio but the way you posted made it sound as if he was out for the season.

    Sorry. Didn't mean to give anyone heart failure!

    How has the 22 ABs sitting out the first part of the Super 14 gone over in NZ, btw? NZ certainly giving themselves every chance in the WC year while all their "rivals" (ha!) are smashing lumps out of each other. I bet the NZ teams are still very competitive too (well, Crusaders, Hurricanes & Chiefs anyway). It must be nice to have that kind of strength in depth....

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    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    I, along with most other Kiwis (except, perhaps, Crusaders supporters), have no problem whatsoever with the conditioning programme. We like to pretend the World Cup doesn't mean much to us, but if this helps us win that stupid trophy which hasn't been on these shores for almost 20 years, so be it...

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