The start of the Super Rugby season is almost here so read on for my predictions for round 1.
Crusaders v Rebels
Crusaders are traditionally slow starters and have lost all their preseason games. Having a high number of All Blacks clearly impacts a team as they return late and some don’t even play at the beginning of the season. Rebels have had a good preseason but are expected to be at the bottom of the pile. If Crusaders are expecting to be a the pointy end come the playoffs then this is the kind of game they need to put away.
Brumbies v Reds
Brumbies have lost some leadership since last season but also have a couple players returning from injury who are like new signings. Reds already have rumours of disharmony in the ranks and we haven’t even started the season. The signing of James O’Conner was a strange one with his divisive influence and having lost their fly-half are going to struggle early on this season.
Lions v Hurricanes
Quite a few people are suggesting that the Hurricanes could be dark horses this season. It’s going to come down to how quickly the new coach can get his ideas across and how they cope with missing All Blacks. The Lions were good at home last year especially early on, but away was their problem so this is one that I’m in two minds about. I have gone with the Canes as the Lions haven’t had a proper preseason test as the Hurricanes have.
Blues v Chiefs
Both these teams had a mixed preseason but interestingly these two teams had a preseason game. The result was Blues 20 Chiefs 41, will that have had any physiological effects for this game? A question that is being asked by intentional teams now in the 6 Nations a head of the RWC.
Probably not, the Chiefs will be looking to get off to a good start and they are many pundits pick for winning the whole thing. The Blues still have the same question that has been around the team for several seasons now, who is in the 10 shirt? With their most experienced player out injured it’s going to be a young gun. It might work but more than likely not.
Sharks v Cheetahs
Sharks were the top South African team last season and are being backed to be there again this time around. Cheetahs were the weakest team in South Africa last year with a very poor defence and they have lost many of their better players. So this is an easy pick as a home win.
Bulls v Stormers
On of the ties of the round for suspense if not for flowing rugby. Stormers already have injury worries and so a trip to the three times champions is a tall ask. It will be interesting to see how the Stormers play, is it going to be all out defence or more expansive?
Pollard is one of the players I’m looking forward to seeing especially with the RWC coming up. Behind a strong pack he could control the game so I’m going for a home win.
Waratahs v Force
Force caused teams problems last year but have lost some players and then there have been key injuries. Waratahs are the champions and whilst that makes them targets there is also a good reason for them winning it all. With very little turnover in personal this should be a early win. The man question for the Waratahs is around Cheika having two jobs being the national coach as well, that though shouldn’t be an issue this early in the season.
Finally please join up with my Super Rugby SuperBru prediction league.