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Saturday, January 21, 2006

 

General Discussions: Does Jaco prefer sushi to braai?

Picture: www.jeppeboys.co.za

It is no secret that Jake White would prefer the mercurial Jaco van der Westhuyzen to be playing his rugby in South Africa, preferably at flyhalf and tasked with the kicking duties.

It's an eminently reasonable attitude from the national coach and for a while it looked like the Stormers might just fulfill White's wishes.

With the loss of Gaffie du Toit and Chris Rossouw, the Stormers suddenly look light in the experience department at pivot.

They have two promising youngsters in Peter Grant and Naas Olivier, however gaining a flyhalf with international experience and composure must have been tasking the Stormers brainstrust in recent weeks.

Whilst both Andrew Mehrtens and Carlos Spencer became available over the past six months, it is difficult for South African teams to match the sums British clubs are prepared to offer for superstars.

So, the desire for Jake to have one of his key playmakers plying his trade within the country must have seemed like a golden opportunity for the Cape based franchise.

Unfortunately, it now appears unlikely that Jaco's Japanese club, NEC, are prepared to release him from his contract, which expires in June 2008. It has also been mentioned that Jaco might be carrying an injury which may require surgery to rectify.

White can't be faulted for his determination to explore every avenue in securing Van der Westhuyzen, reportedly telling The Star's Jacques van der Westhuyzen, "We're trying to get a win-win situation here where Jaco, SA Rugby and NEC benefit from whatever deal we are able to strike," said White.

"The Japanese season closes at the end of February so we would be able to use Jaco in March, April and even a part of May.

"What it comes down to at this stage is negotiating with NEC and coming to some sort of compromise... whether that involves some sort of compensation for them or me going to coach there a bit, we have to see.

"We would also have to get Jaco into a team where he plays flyhalf and kicks at goal, because those are things he has to do at international level."

Jake White doesn't strike me as a man who easily takes no for an answer, so whilst the Stormers may not benefit, it still wouldn't surprise me to see Jaco back in SA at some stage.

Information source: www.iol.co.za
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Rugby Personalities: I bench press 215 kg's.


Andy Sheridan

After just four England caps, barnstorming Sale prop Andy Sheridan is already hailed by many as his country's talisman. But is he as fearsome off the pitch? Small Talk hoped not.

Paul Doyle
www.guardian.co.uk
Friday January 20, 2006

Hi there Andy, how's it going?


[Very softly] Fine thanks, Small Talk.

You're the biggest, strongest, scariest member of the England squad. How much can you bench?

My record is 215kg. Haven't gone past that yet.

Was there a specific Incredible Hulk moment when you discovered you were super strong?

Not really, you just get there through hard work.

So all the other guys on the team are just lazy?

[Gently] Careful, Small Talk, that's not what I said.

[Fawning] Was Geoff Capes your hero when you were a kid? Do you have any plans to enter a strong man competition?

I did admire Geoff Capes actually. And Bill Kazmaier, too. I wouldn't mind trying one of those competitions, but I'm not sure how good I'd be: some of those guys are really huge.

Sir Clive Woodward: genius or fruitcake?

[Still Lake Placid personified] I enjoyed working with him. He's very well organised and has lots of fresh ideas. That's what you need from someone in his position.

What did you make of Alastair Campbell on the Lions tour?

I liked him. He's a nice bloke and interesting to talk to. He's got strong views and is quite forthcoming with them but that's fine. I enjoyed having him around.

Is it true you're studying to be a bricklayer?

Yes, I'm doing my NVQ. It's something I enjoy and will definitely do more of when I'm finished with rugby.

What the best prank you've ever been involved in?

[Ponders] The lads at Sale once wrapped someone's car in cling film.

Word is you're also a mean folk singer?

[Bashfully] I just dabble.

What are we talking about: weepy odes to line-outs or covers of Chas 'n' Dave classics?

I write my own songs. It's the usual type of folk stuff, sad songs mostly. But I just play them for myself and mates. I certainly don't do gigs.

What's the last CD you bought?

I think it was David Gray's latest one. I like his stuff.

Your favourite TV show?

Since I'm into building and property, I enjoy Property Ladder and that sort of thing.

What's the last movie you went to see?

Cinderella Man. I'd read the book by James Braddock so I knew what was coming, but I still thought it was well done and quite accurate.

What's your poison?

Gin and tonic.

Britney or Beyoncé?

Neither really. [Small Talk pushes for alternative] Maybe Shania Twain.

Who or what would you put into Room 101?

Rude people. And cars - they're everywhere.

So you don't drive?

[Chortling] OK, so I have a car, but I'd get rid of everyone else's!

Fair enough, Small Talk's not one to argue. Not with you anyway. So then, fancy finishing with a joke?

Blimey, a joke! [Asks entourage for assistance, gets some, then quips] What do you call a fish with no eyes?

[Struggling] See-sick?

Fsh [Gentle chuckle].

[Laughing uproariously, as you would too in the circumstances] Nice one, Andy! Thanks for your time, and good luck in the Six Nations.

Thanks, Small Talk. Bye.

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General Discussions: There's nothing wrong with a bit of 'biffo'!

"I remember an early ruck in a cup tie in the snow on Pontypool Park, when the sound of studs on a player's head was almost musical, a sort of xylophonic arpeggio of aluminium on bone. There would be a brief splatter of red on white, a player or three shake their heads to check nothing had fallen off, and play would carry on."

Intemperance all part of the drama

Eddie Butler
Sunday January 15, 2006
The Observer

Before the start of this season, it was decreed in high places that there should be a clampdown on foul play. There had been a lot of adverse publicity generated in New Zealand, following Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu's off-the-ball clear-out, the twin spear that dislocated Brian O'Driscoll's shoulder and ended his Lions tour. Rugby was spooked into launching a clean-up campaign.

The referees of the world, rather than seeing themselves exposed to universal mayhem, decided to confront the potentially lethal spear-tackle head-on. With a coolness that seemed to elude their political masters, they agreed that if a message was delivered early to the players that the 'spear tackle' was absolutely taboo, then it could be eradicated almost, touch wood, overnight.

The memorandum was sent out: if you lift an opponent into the air you are responsible for bringing him down safely. 'Safely' is a relative term. The imparting of pain, or, at the very least, the loss of dignity for the player on the receiving end, has to be an essential part of a good tackle. Landing 'safely' meant without mortal risk.
There were a couple of incidents - in the Wales-Fiji game, for example - when perfectly good tackles, which began with an upward movement, were penalised, but they were merely a result of the referees' desire to make their point stick. And it worked. The video that accompanied their investigation into 'spearing' contained some frightening scenes of spines being asked to handle stress levels high in the human frame's red zone.

The spear-tackle had been identified and dealt with. Referees and players had responded with alacrity to a genuine alarm. But then came a spate of all-in dust-ups in the early weeks of France's domestic championnat. One brawl at Bourgoin, involving international back-row Julien Bonnaire, was particularly disturbing. This wasn't just handbags, but overnight hold-alls, suitcases, trunks and all outsize baggage.

Then came the latest weapon of personal destruction, the elbow. French captain Fabien Pelous was banned for nine weeks for using it on Brendan Cannon during the France-Australia Test in that same, apparently turbulent autumn. Not long afterwards, Gavin Henson's pointed blow to the nose of Alex Moreno, a back-elbow, cost him 10 weeks, reduced last week on appeal to seven.

There will be some in the high council of the game, who will be dismayed at the leniency shown by the appeal panel of Brian McLoughlin, Phil Orr (both IRFU) and Mike Hamlin (RFU). In a time of anti-social behaviour this is not the moment to go soft on crime.

On the other hand, this again is all relative. For all that it has been slightly tempestuous lately, rugby is infinitely less violent than in its amateur days.

I remember an early ruck in a cup tie in the snow on Pontypool Park, when the sound of studs on a player's head was almost musical, a sort of xylophonic arpeggio of aluminium on bone. There would be a brief splatter of red on white, a player or three shake their heads to check nothing had fallen off, and play would carry on.

And if that is too prehistoric to be of any relevance, there was the series between England and France in the early 1990s. Can anyone remember the 1991 World Cup quarter-final in Paris? Serge Blanco, so elegant, so majestic in every aspect of the game, was tumble-dried by the English forwards out of the first ruck of the game. The great full-back, in his frustration, later used Nigel Heslop's head as a Kronk gym speed-bag.

This game led only to another, England in Paris in the Five Nations of 1992. This ended with two-thirds of the French front-row - Vincent Moscato and Gregoire Lascube - being sent off. And how wonderfully well England kept their composure, it was said, while France seethed with rage. It was just that they did not get caught.

The intemperance of the games was an essential part of the drama. The delicate balance between total commitment and illicit excess had been upset, but had been beautifully stage-managed by England. They played magnificently well on all fronts that day, winning 31-13.

The recent Heineken Cup tie between the Neath-Swansea Ospreys and Leicester, the one that included the Henson-Moreno clash, was a gem in its own right. But every time you read about it, it is described as the 'ill-tempered' encounter.

As opposed to what precisely? The 'traditionally good-humoured' meetings between Wales and England? We may have gone all gooey-eyed over Freddie Flintoff consoling Brett Lee in the Ashes, and Umaga may once have checked to see if Colin Charvis had swallowed his tongue, but in general there is no need in 80 minutes of rugby union to be overly caring. I know O'Driscoll would have appreciated a word from Umaga in Christchurch, but really it was no big deal that the All Black captain there and then on that night thought he had more important things to do.

What happens - or what happened - is that players beat, bit, poked, elbowed, booted - even spear-tackled - lumps out of each other and then, on final whistle, embraced and headed for the bar. It was the gory glory of the game.

Rugby now is infinitely cleaner. And faster and more powerful and simply better. If there is one area that gives cause for concern it is not that there is a trend towards violence, because there is not. There are isolated outbreaks, natural consequences of a sport that advocates so much legitimate violent conduct, spillages that are quickly, if a tad harshly of late, dealt with by disciplinary procedures.

No, what should concern us is that the modern players remain isolated from their opponents. If you try to make their professional lives so antiseptic that they arrive, play and depart, then you tinker with one of the true fundamentals, the shared experience of diving into something that can be pretty dangerous.

Rugby is not meant to be a hygienic experience. The more the players share a few of its germs, the more they will respect each other and the more they will enjoy themselves. And everyone in high places can relax and stop worrying about epidemics of violence.
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Super 14: Warm-up games: Cats 29 - Spears 11

The second game of the Spears. Against the Cats. Kicking off now!

24 - 5 to the Cats at Half time.

This is like War correspondence. Damn!

In the first half, tries for the Cats by Jacque Fourie, Jorrie Muller and Jarno Vermaak. For the spears a try by centre Spencer Wakeling.

16 Minutes into the second half. Spears star left wing, Lovu, late tackled. Penalty to Spears. 24 - 8 to Kieties.

27th minute. Willem Scholtz, lock of Cats yellow carded. Score still the same! Go Spears!!! :)

31st Minute. Try by January. Not converted. 29 - 8 to Kieties.

Final minute of the game - penalty by Reinhard Gerber of the Spears. Final score - CATS 29 - 11.
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Recipes: Wine drinkers 'more healthy'


In the interests of keeping Rugga World readers healthy and hale, we publish the following report from www.news24.com . Go to News24 for all your breaking SA news.

Paris - The stereotype of the beer drinker as a lover of cholesterol-boosting snacks has been borne out by a study that also confirms that wine drinkers are likelier to tuck into something light and healthy.

Four Danish researchers ploughed through 3.5 million transactions that were carried out in Danish supermarkets over six months.

The team categorised transactions as "wine only", "beer only", "mixed" or "non-alcohol".

"Wine buyers bought more olives, fruit and vegetables, poultry, cooking oil and low-fat cheese, milk and meat than beer buyers," they report in a paper published online Friday by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

"Beer buyers bought more ready-cooked dishes, sugar, cold cuts, chips (crisps), pork, butter or margarine, sausages, lamb and soft drinks than wine buyers."

The findings, the authors say, add to previous research conducted elsewhere in Western cultures that say wine drinkers tend to have a higher income, level of education and awareness of healthy diet than beer drinkers.

Investigations into alcoholism may not be taking "lifestyle factors", derived from socio-economic backgrounds, sufficiently into account, they suggest.

The 3.5 million transactions were chosen at random from 98 outlets from 16 supermarkets of the Bilka chain and 82 stores of the Fotex chain.

The computerised checkout data were stored to help the supermarkets keep their inventories and could not be traced back to individual customers.
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Super 14: Trial Game - Cheetahs 29 - Emirates Western Force 19

South Africa's Cheetahs will play the Emirates Western Force at Subiaco Oval this afternoon at 13h00 in a trial game (4 x 20 minute quarters) prior to the Super 14 competition.

This warm-up game can be followed from 1300 CAT on the web by logging onto http://www.6pr.com.au/6pr.asx

End of the first quarter and the Force is leading 14 - 3. After some initial sound problems on this side.

Yeah!

Try by Juan Smith converted by Bosman. Penalty also by Bosman. 14 -13.

End of first half.

Penalty by Bosman. Cheetahs 16 - 14.

Try by the Force. The Force 19 - 16.

Push-over try Cheetahs. Seems like Michael Claasens. Cheetahs 21 - 19.

Conversion by Bosman. Penalty missed by Bosman. Cheetahs 23 - 19.

End of third quarter.

Penalty by Bosman. Cheetahs 25 - 19.

Dont know how but 29 -19 to Cheetahs!

End of game. Cheetahs 29 -19. Well done Cheetahs!!!!!
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Recipes: Rasputin's Oxtail Potjie.


Well. It's Saturday. It's Rugby time again. None of the TV Networks realised it yet, though. So we can't watch. But we can listen. And, obviously, follow the warm-up games on the brilliantly exciting website that is Rugga World.

So, why not revisit the age-old famous tradition of an Oxtail Potjie. But with a bit of a twist. The personal recipe of a Saffa contributor living abroad! Rasputin's Oxtail Potjie. Read on!

Ingredients

- 2 large oxtails, cut into joints
- 1/3 cup cooking oil
- 2 large onions, sliced into fairly thick rounds
- 6 bay leaves
- 4 chopped cloves of garlic
- 4 large carrots, scraped and cut into chunky wheels
- the juice & zest of one lemon
- 6 cloves
- a good grind of black pepper
- a dash of Worcester sauce
- salt
- 6 potatoes, peeled and halved
- 1/3 cup brandy
- red wine to cover

Instructions

Heat the oil in the potjie, then brown the meat quickly over high heat with the onion. Add bay leaves, garlic, cloves, lemon juice, salt, pepper, Worcester sauce and carrots. Add enough red wine to barely cover.

Let it simmer away very slowly for four hours, then add the potatoes and the brandy and let it simmer until the potatoes are done and the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.

Serve with rice, crispy fresh bread and green salad.

And lots of red wine (Kandas' addition. Just trying to help.)
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Friday, January 20, 2006

 

Rugby Personalities: Where are they now?

(With grateful thanks to Pieter for kindly taking the time out of his busy schedule to provide further detail on the chronology of his playing career.)

If De Wet Barry can be described as the Prince, Japie Mulder as the General then perhaps it would not be out of place to call Pieter Gysbert Muller the King of recent South African inside centres.

Pieter Muller made his debut for the Springboks as a fresh faced youngster on the 15 Aug 1992 at the age of 23.

Muller played for South African schools in 1987 and 1988 (following in the footsteps of his older brother Helgard in 1981 and 1982). Muller made his debut for Orange Free State in 1990, after playing club rugby in Ireland for six months, and played for the province 25 times before moving to Natal where he stayed till 1995.

The strapping 1.87m, 100 kg debutant couldn't have chosen a more auspicious occasion on which to start his international career, not only against the mighty All Blacks at Ellis Park but in South Africa's first international after re-admittance.

Paired up with the legendary Danie Gerber, and playing outside Naas Botha, his opponents were one of the best centre pairings in history in Walter Little and Frank Bunce.

This was a quality New Zealand team from 1-15 with the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Jones, Ian Jones, Zinzan Brooke, Richard Loe, Olo Brown and Grant Fox. Their experience told as they thundered to a 2 try half-time lead of 10-0, leaving all South African supporters fearing the worst, not least the 72 000 crammed into the stadium.

Muller and Gerber were having nothing of it however, scorching in three second half tries between them with Gerber crossing twice. Ferocious defence limited the Kiwis to a solitary second half try and the game was to be decided on discipline and the battle of two of the greatest boots the game has seen.

Fox eventually prevailed with the New Zealanders running out 27-24 victors whilst we witnessed the birth of a stellar career for the young Muller.

Pieter played another 17 tests for the Boks before enduring a career threatening neck break in April 1995. One can only imagine the mental anguish, never mind physical trauma, of suffering a life threatening injury in the year South Africa were due to host a home World Cup.

It was thought at the time that we'd seen the last of the massive centre but through quiet dedication and inner resolve Muller rehabilitated himself.

Pieter headed to Australia and joined the Penrith Panthers rugby league team in 1996, where he stayed for a year, further developing his technique and physique. A year with Toulouse in 1997 preceded his return to South Africa and the Sharks.

Recalled to the Springboks in 1998, he enjoyed nine successive victories whilst amassing a further 16 tests to bring his total appearances for South Africa to 33, a highly creditable total given his 4 year absence. Beyond that he shared in the 8th and 9th highest centre partnerships for SA with Andre Snyman and Heinrich Fuls respectively. He also played five matches each with Danie Gerber and Robbie Fleck. Pieter also shares the highest caps as a centre for South Africa with John Gainsford and De Wet Barry.

Whilst most players would consider retiring at the age of 30, Pieter left SA to ply his trade in the UK. Joining the Cardiff Blues in 2000, he appeared in 80 matches for the Welsh outfit. At the same time he started developing his interest in coaching, taking his Coaching Qualifications in Wales. He assisted in coaching the Wales U19 and U21 squads and is developing his skills by doing a MSc Coaching Science degree.

Despite approaches from more glamorous clubs, he chose to move to Doncaster as Director of Rugby Development where he saw the opportunity to learn every aspect of rugby management with a progressive club.

Doncaster's faith in Muller was quickly repaid when he secured the RFU's Coach of the Month - National Two, three months in succession.

On hearing of the award, Pieter said, “I am delighted to accept the award on behalf of the Doncaster players who faced really tough matches in the last month, just as promotion was looming. There were no wobbles and we got the job done. This included a narrow win over Newbury in the best match of the whole season. We were pushed hard and were able to show just how good a side we are. There are a number of very good coaches in this league and I am just happy that, in my first season in that role, success has come early in my career”.

So, in this edition of 'Where are they now?' we can definitively say that an outstanding servant of South African rugby is in Doncaster.

Details of Pieter's club can be found at www.drfc.co.uk

Let's hope that Pieter's rugby journey brings him back home once again at some stage in his career.

Pieter Gysbert Muller, Rugga World salutes you.

Information sources: rfu.com, sporting-heroes.net, scrum.com, bbc.co.uk and www.genslin.us
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Super 14: McMeniman in surprise position change.

The Queensland based Reds have pulled a surprising positional switch for their fixture against the Blues tomorrow night.

The Sydney Morning Herald provide further details.

Rising Wallabies lock Hugh McMeniman is keen to solve Australia's perennial back-row problem after being handed Queensland's No.6 jersey for the Super 14.

The Reds have shown their 2006 hand by selecting McMeniman at blind-side flanker to play the Auckland-based Blues tonight at Ballymore.

Coach Jeff Miller yesterday revealed the talented 22-year-old's Super 14 future rested in the back-row as Queensland looked for extra height and expertise in the lineout.

McMeniman has embraced the challenge and conceded it was his preference to play as a dynamic back-rower with more freedom to roam the field and carry the ball.

The move comes as a minor surprise as McMeniman was Queensland's bright light in an otherwise gloomy 2005 when he starred at lock to finish the year in the Wallabies second-row.

But his mobility and an eye-catching display in his one match at No.6 last year, in a shock move against NSW, has the Reds convinced he can make the switch work for him, the Reds and Australia.

The Wallabies have struggled to settle on a blind-side flanker since ball scavengers Phil Waugh and George Smith started playing together in the back-row in 2003.

Rocky Elsom, Smith and John Roe all shared time there in 2005 but the Test lineout struggled to win its own ball without a quality third jumper.

Roe deserved to finish in the role thanks to his impressive form in November's European tour but his height (188cm) will forever count against him with Waugh and Smith, now converted to No.8, together.

McMeniman, determined to be key ball-carrier at 113kg and 200cm, is licking his lips at the chance to get more involved in defence and attack.

"I'm definitely up for it," he said.

"I'm looking forward to having a go at it and hopefully I can play the position through this year."

Miller, for one, strongly believes McMeniman can go all the way with the positional switch.

"He's a big man, he's athletic, he gives us size in the back-row and is another line-out jumper," he said.

Skipper Roe, troubled by a foot injury, has been named to make a surprise 20-minute appearance after young No.8 Ben Mowen broke his jaw in an internal scrimmage on Wednesday night.

Mowen's injury has seen Mitchell Chapman, in a battle with Sydney recruit Cam Treloar to partner Mark Connors in the second-row, moved to No.8 for the trial against an inexperienced Blues outfit.

Miller is experimenting with his backline, naming Tim Atkinson on the wing and Julian Huxley at outside centre, due to the loss of outside backs Ben Tune (knee) and Henari Veratau (hamstring).

Elton Flatley will play his first match in seven months, sharing time at five-eighth with former Brisbane Broncos young gun Berrick Barnes, who will start.

The two Reds are on a collision course for the No.10 jersey, with Miller earmarking Lloyd Johansson at inside centre.

AAP
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International Teams: All Black charged for 'common assault'

The New Zealand Herald are reporting that a current All Black has been charged for assault after being arrested in the early hours of the morning.

It is news that is hardly designed to delight the NZRFU, following on from claims by former All Black captain, Anton Oliver, that a 'drinking culture' had been allowed to develop in the team. There is no suggestion that the AB had been drinking but it is further publicity that will be unwelcome.

Sione Lauaki has been named as the All Black charged with common assault after an incident in central Hamilton early today.

Acting Senior Sergeant Morgan Kutia of Hamilton police confirmed a 24-year-old Waikato sports personality was arrested shortly before 5am.

The man was released before 6am and bailed to appear in Hamilton District Court on January 26.

He was charged with common assault on a 26-year-old man in Victoria St.

It was already known that the man involved was a Chiefs Super 14 player. Lauaki was named by Newstalk ZB at lunchtime.

Chiefs chief executive Gary Dawson said Lauaki had agreed his name could be released, partly to prevent speculation that the incident involved any of his other All Blacks and Chiefs teammates, and partly because media were already moving to publish his name.

"We haven't changed our view that it's a matter for the police to complete their work and if it is going to go through the judicial system then that has to take place and until that happens and we know all the facts we're not making any comment."

Dawson said it was premature to say what any internal disciplinary measures from the Chiefs might be until the outcome of the police investigation was known but Lauaki was bound by a collective employment agreement as a professional rugby player.

"It's fairly extensive in there in terms of the various options available if there is misconduct of any sort," he said.

Lauaki would not be making any statement at this stage.

"We've advised him that until he's met with his legal adviser on Monday that all communication will come through me," Dawson said.

Tongan-born, the 115kg 1.94m Lauaki has played seven tests for the All Blacks after starring for the combined Pacific Islands side is his international debut.

New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) spokesman Brian Finn said the union would not comment on any incident that was subject to a police investigation.

- NZPA, NEWSTALK ZB
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Other Unions / Teams: Catt to try his hand at coaching?


Perhaps with the resumption of Jonah Lomu's rugby career in the UK, it might be a fine time for Mike Catt to consider hanging up the old boots?

By David Hands

www.timesonline.co.uk

LEICESTER’S search for a head coach to replace Pat Howard at the end of this season is no nearer resolution, but they have Mike Catt in their sights. The former England utility back’s two-year playing contract with London Irish is approaching its conclusion and, in talks over a possible next stage to his career, Leicester are said to have been “hugely impressed”.

Catt, though a couple of years older than Howard at 34, would not be considered for the head coach’s role but as a backs coach. Leicester are reconsidering the parameters of the job for which they initially short-listed Scott Johnson, Jim Mallinder and John Kirwan, but, for differing reasons, they are having to start again.

Johnson, the Wales skills coach, is more likely to return to his native Australia, where a new coaching regime for the Wallabies will be in place; Mallinder, late of Sale Sharks, has committed himself to the RFU’s national academy and Kirwan, coach to Italy last year, has no experience of the Guinness Premiership.

“Leicester is not the easiest place to come into — sometimes it’s intimidating,” Howard, who has fitted into the East Midlands wonderfully well, said this week. Leicester have not yet given up hope that Howard can be persuaded to stay, but if they believe that Catt can play a part in their future, they must woo him away from the Irish.

It is likely that the exiles have spoken to him about the possibility of a player-coach role when his playing contract ends. Were he to accept a position at Leicester it would reunite him with Austin Healey, bringing together two of the freer spirits to play for England in the past ten years, even if Healey next season will play only part-time. It would also introduce a player who, during a decade with Bath, was at the heart of the inveterate rivalry between the clubs.

Leicester have Richard Cockerill in his formative years as a coach, so they would be looking for an older, more experienced figure to complete their coaching panel were Catt, with 65 caps and a World Cup winner’s medal, to join them.

Gloucester have signed Will James, the former Wales A lock, on a two-year deal. James, 29, has been playing for Cornish Pirates in National Division One and will arrive at Kingsholm in July for his first taste of the Premiership but bringing with him considerable experience, including Heineken Cup appearances with Pontypridd.
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Super 14: De Villiers warns Cats

Despite the initial setback against the Cheetahs, Spears coach Pieter de Villiers is in no mood for capitulation, exhorting his players to work harder and retain the burgeoning team spirit they are developing.

Here he chats to the Dispatch, www.dispatch.co.za

De Villiers appeals for teamwork, dedication from Spears

By LUXOLO MANTAMBO

TEAMWORK and sheer dedication. This is what Southern Spears coach believes will conquer the Cats at East London's Absa Stadium tomorrow - while he warns the Gauteng side not to underestimate his team.

The inexperienced Spears team is on a team-building campaign preparing for next year's daunting task in the ultra-competitive Super 14 rugby competition - and the Cats are their next pit stop.

At the team's gruelling training yesterday, De Villiers said he wanted to see his team using tomorrow's game as a stepping stone and producing a much better performance than when they were drubbed 48-0 by the Currie Cup champions Cheetahs in their own backyard in Port Elizabeth last week.

In all fairness, it was the Spears first competitive game in the "big league*.

With his youthful team already being written off by harsh critics, De Villiers believes only the presence of a strong team spirit and sheer dedication can steer his side to victory when they lock horns with the Cats.

The Cats have problems of their own and will arrive in East London this afternoon looking for a positive results.

"Everything we do, we will have to do it as a team. We will have to fight and stand for each other.

"I know that is probably going to take time but we will get there,* De Villiers maintained yesterday.

The tough-talking Spears coach issued a stern warning to the Cats.

"Tomorrow's game is going to be a humdinger.

"No one must expect an easy game. If they underestimate us, they are in for a big surprise,* he said.

The experienced Cats team has obviously been punted by many as hot favourites to whip the unknown Spears team.


"We will have to match them in each and every area. If they come to us fighting, we will have to fight harder,* De Villiers said.

The Spears coach, whose camp has been rocked by injuries including that of captain Ashley Johnson, said he had studied the Cats' game carefully.

"They have a couple of Springboks in their side but I think they are also a bit predictable,* he said.

De Villiers is, however, still harbouring serious reservations about his tight five.

Against the Cheetahs last week, the Spears forwards were badly exposed.

"In any team, you need your forwards to be on top of things.

"We are faced with a challenge to work on our weaknesses.

"We don't have the comfort of time but I'm sure we will get it right very soon,* he said.
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Super 14: Focus on the Chiefs


Source: thesilverfern.com
Article by Bartman


After a shonky start last season, the Chiefs eventually managed to make it to 6th place on the log. This year, with the least All Black representation, and a darw that sees them play in Boerland twice and then against the Western Force in Perth, expect after the first three rounds things to be pretty grim. But this team will come back from there, they have recruited well, have leadership coming back into the fold in Tom Willis, and a core of players with enough experience to really give this first season of Super 14 a good nudge.

Changes
There is plenty to be excited about this season for the Chiefs and their fans. Starting with the returning Tom Willis, which adds not just a fine front rower to the roster, but also another strong leader to back up captain Jono Gibbes. Also the Phantom, Mils Muliaina, New Zealand's best fullback is also going to be pulling on the colours. Sam Tuitupou also joins the Tribe, and will have much to prove after his horrible year in 2005. He'll want to put that behind him, and what better stage than the Super 14, and bringing up a previously under performing team in the Chiefs. A vital midfield addition. Only three players, but all in influential positions, the Chiefs will be vastly improved for it.

Strengths
The threes. Sivivatu, Anesi and Muliaina. No way in hell would you aimlessly kick to that three, they will tear you up every time. Holah, Bates, Lauaki in the loose trio too will be good to watch. Two genuine workers in Holah and Bates, and a game breaker in Lauaki. If Lauaki can play to the form that he showed against Canterbury in last seasons NPC, then all good. Plenty of depth in the loose too, with the return of Ormsby to the Chiefs, Liam Messam, and Gibbes all waiting in the wings. The leadership Gibbes, Bates, and Willis.

Weaknesses
Strange to say with a Chiefs team, but there seems to be no real weaknesses this season, nothing glaring at any rate. With Willis back at hooker, that area is shored up. Perhaps at lock a little short on real height (Upton and Gibbes starting locks), at lineout time, but clever play can beat the lack of tall timber. Perhaps also first five - Stephen Donald yet to be proven at Super 12 level, and Hill proven to be a better 12 than 10, and that is not really saying much...

Draw
Tough with three away games to start proceedings, 2 in Beorland, the other in Perth. Then 5 of the next 6 games are at home, and 9 of the 10 in New Zealand, so travel tiredness will not be a problem come the business end of the season.

Questions
What mix will Fozzy use in midfield? Will Hill or Tuitupou be starting in the 12 shirt? Mils at fullback or at centre? Can Holah, Gibbes and Willis lead this Chiefs forward pack to glory, and reclaim All Black jerseys in the process?

Look out for
Nathan White at loosehead prop. Up to it or not, I don't know, has the size for the job, in spades! Tuitupou to push himslef back into All Black contention. Holah also, and Tom Willis, will be rated number one hooker in New Zealand at the end of the Super 12 - injuries permitting!

Prediction
With the favourable draw, some handy new players, a bit of deadwood carted away, it is a promising season ahead for the Chiefs. Semi final contenders, possibly. Between 6th-4th.
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Other Unions / Teams: Japan place focus on raising level of national team

By David Hands
www.timesonline.co.uk

Our correspondent finds the country taking a positive approach to the disappointment of their failed bid to stage the World Cup.

WHATEVER claims may have been advanced this month on their behalf, or the development of the sport in Asia, Japan’s face is firmly to the future. Having overcome their initial disappointment that their bid to stage the 2011 World Cup was unsuccessful last November, the Japanese union is intent on sustaining the positive image that surrounded their bid.

There has been mild embarrassment over the spat involving the letter sent by the Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) to the IRB regarding the transparency of the bid process; also over the publicity attending Japan’s exchange of e-mails with Jamie Scott, the ARFU secretary, in the immediate aftermath of the voting that ended with the award of the tournament to New Zealand.



At the same time, Japan have received encouragement to bid again, perhaps in 2015, when, if the usual rituals are preserved, the World Cup should return to the northern hemisphere. Whether that would bring them into conflict with England, one of their supporters in November, remains to be seen. The RFU bid unsuccessfully, with a radical new tournament structure, for the 2007 World Cup but has yet to decide whether it would return to the fray in three years’ time, when the tender process for 2015 is likely to begin.

The RFU is, in any case, critical of the present methodology used by the IRB in determining the host union. “The award of hosting a RWC tournament under the current bidding system is not necessarily based upon organisational capabilities or financial strength,” its strategic plan published last year said.

“It is strongly influenced by the emotional and political needs of the global game. It is, therefore, questionable whether a competitive bidding system is appropriate . . . or whether it would be better to adopt a rotation system between selected eligible countries for, say, five RWCs ahead.”

The RFU believes that that would offer a better long-term strategy for the global game and balance the need to maximise World Cup revenues against the need to stage a World Cup in a developing country such as Japan or the United States. Under such a system, the IRB could have awarded the 2011 tournament to New Zealand and told Japan, at the same time, to prepare for 2015. As it is, Japan have decided that, having achieved such an administrative presence on the world stage last year, they must improve their playing strength as a matter of urgency.

“We have learnt many lessons from last year’s bid, but that is closed now,” Koji Tokumasu, the Japanese RFU chief executive, said. “That has now become our starting point for the future. But we understand that, under the current bidding system, we might not achieve success in the future unless we change, so we have to make our national team stronger.”

To that end, Japan are not only eagerly awaiting the inaugural Pacific competition, to be played in June and July, but are making overtures to other tier-two countries. The new competition, involving the Junior All Blacks, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, as well as Japan, takes the place for an initial three years of the Super Cup, of which Japan are the holders. It seems certain, therefore, that Japan will be talking to those countries who were involved in the Super Cup (Canada, the United States and Romania), as well as the likes of Spain, who visited Tokyo in November, and Portugal, accepting the possibility that there would be financial implications in inviting other countries to play regular international matches.

“If we fail to show the rest of the world in four years’ time that Japan is growing, maybe our image will go down,” Tokumasu said. “That’s why we will work even harder than before to improve the performance of the national side and that’s why we need a longer international programme, to demonstrate we are getting better. We had some nice catchphrases for our bid last year, but now people will be looking at us in a different light.”
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Super 14: Sharks in an Orca pod


The Shark. Razor-toothed piscine hunter of the deep ocean. Man-eater. A 1981 US survey found,the word SHARK induced the most terror. But alongside the greatest predator of all, Sharks are clown fish. Sleek black and white nine ton mammal. The Orcas. They outgun Sharks in every sense. Faster, bigger and much much more intelligent using complex communication and co-operative tactics. They hate sharks. Sharks threaten their babies. Crossing paths with Orcas is certain death to Sharks. After this Super 14 we’ll see a Sharks carcass wash up on the gentle shores of Currie Cup rugby covered in bite marks from thirteen Orcas.

The old Murphy moniker (If anything can go wrong, it will) applies for the Sharks this year. Everything is stacked against them getting even one win, and they will follow the past few year’s form and finish dead stone last, making place for Tony McKeever’s young Spears to have a shot at greatness while the Banana Boys groggily take a year out to get up from their own peel they slipped on. Why do I say this?

The past two years count against them

In the heady days of Mark Andrews, Lem and Teich, the Sharks had everyone’s number in this competition, starting their campaign with 2nd, 4th and 3rd. From 2002 it was 10th, 11th, 7th (an aberration that came to an end when Butch James couldn’t play in the home games) and finally 12th. Nothing has changed from 2005. The same ageing players, a few younger and more inexperienced ones, their open tiff with SARU when Oregon Hoskins lead a failed palace coup, and injuries. They look under prepared this year. The new coach has also failed to deliver in the Currie Cup. He starts as a green head coach for Super 14.

Their schedule is a road to disaster.

They start against the Chiefs in Durban. The Chiefs are probably 4th strongest of the Kiwi teams, but with All Blacks Byron Kelleher, Sione Lauaki and dangerous Sitiveni Sivivatu this is not a team to be trifled with. The week afterward the Currie Cup champion Cheetahs visit the Shark tank. A stern test. This is where it goes pear-shaped.

Next up they hit the Australiasian road, starting their overseas campaign against the worst possible opponents, the Crusaders. Then the Waratahs, Brumbies and Highlanders in frosty Antarctica. With all shuttling between Australia and New Zealand the Sharks are going to spend a lot of time in airports – and with jet lag.

Then they come home to a relieving easier game against fellow cellar dwellers, the Reds. Following this they fly to Jozi for a showdown with a classy Cats outfit, before they face the mighty Blues starring Doug Howlett, Luke McAllister, Keven Mealamu and Joe Rokocoko. This is followed up with another trip to Gauteng to play the Bulls in their blue kraal. Then back onto a plane to face the Bok studded backline of the Stormers in Durban and lastly debutante Aussies the Force in Durban.

What a shocking schedule. The Sharks will be on planes every Saturday evening or Sunday morning throughout their campaign. Every single game requires flying and only their first two matches and the last two don’t require them to travel.

This travel crazy itinerary will count against them. They face difficult teams away from home in successive weeks, e.g. the Bulls and Blues. The schedule is going to be their undoing.

The crazy schedule means key players need rest and there’s no backup

The Sharks only named 29 players, so that leaves room for 2004’s inspirational Butch James to come back into the side. So let’s look at their make-shift team. Even this is crazy. There’s space for Butch James, John Smit or Tony Brown, but not all three. So who will have the 30th spot?

Their back three will probably start as Russel, Mkhize and Mentz. Mentz is strong, big and fast, but has failed at this level before. Russel is a breakaway player. He needs space to dominate and his defence is questionable. Like most of the young guns coming through at the moment, Mkhize is fast. But that’s about it. In the back-up they have pint sized, but promising JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane, a player with only speed in his arsenal. Defensively this back three is suspect and any opponent would be well advised to spin it wide where people like Clyde Rathbone, Joe Rokocoko, Sitiveni Sivavatu, Bryan Habana and Ashwin Willemse will wreak havoc on this back three.

In the midfield the Sharks are reasonably represented with another 16 Valve in Adie Jacobs, promising but inexperienced Freestate journeyman Andries Strauss and non passing defensive hole Ncgobani Bobo. Without Butch James and Tony Brown, the flyhalf berth looks decidedly vulnerable with make-shifts long in the tooth Percy Montgomery, pocket rocket utility Brent Russel and scrumhalf convert Ruan Pienaar, who failed there in Currie Cup 2005.

Only at scrumhalf are the Sharks ably represented with Ruan Pienaar fulfilling a good role as back-up to competent Jake White outcast Craig Davidson.

The back row is served with Samoan international Daniel Farani, who could not get a contract with a Kiwi side, ageing AJ “Fabio” Venter, incorrectly identified “star” Solly Tybilika and back-up in geriatric Warren Britz. Against the likes of Danie Rossouw, Schalk Burger, Richie McCaw, George Smith, David Lyons, Jerry Collins and Mose Tuiali’I they will be seriously outgunned in the size and speed departments. Much like sharks against orcas.

The lock department looks useful with Bok impact Albert Van Den Berg backed by similarly ageing former Bok and Bulls enforcer Johan Ackerman. The problem is that neither are particularly good jumpers or ball competitors so while Van Den Berg may make a useful blindsider and Johan Ackerman a useful ruck buster, neither inspire confidence against the likes of Big Vic, Jannes Labuschagne, Bakkies Botha, Ali Williams, Chris Jack and Daniel Vickerman. The backup is effectively non-existent. Nobody in their right mind would call them Super 14 players which augurs poorly for the Sharks.

The front row features promising and inexperienced BJ Botha, ageing Deon Caarsten, who has never impressed, and promising Bismarck Du Plessis to replace inspirational Bok skipper John Smit. They have to face people like the wily Matt Dunning, The Bulls front row, North Harbour All Blacks Keven Mealamu and strongman Tony Woodcock. But in their second match they face Bok pairing Os Du Randt and strngman deluxe CJ Van Der Linde. This will be enough to spell doom.

No Bok skipper and no experience in the coaching set-up

Yes David Campese came over to help, but he has absolutely no coaching experience and his current rugby knowledge is limited to whining about Eddie Jones in The Australian and running a sports shop. Dick Muir was an outstanding player and his replacement of pariah Kevin Putt caused a breath of relief for fans. His coaching experience at this level as head coach is non existent.

Then we have a Director of Rugby who single-handedly did his best to give every male in South Africa a cap and tried his best to destroy our game. Okay, he lead the Sharks to two Currie Cup Finals where they lost, but he’s credibility is shot for all times and always.

John Smit makes a massive contribution to the Sharks success. He’s out with an injury. Afterward, he faces a ban. He will probably only become involved when the Orcas have done the worst damage, and the Sharks carcass is washing toward the gentle shore where the Spears await their turn to have a shot.
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Super 14: More bad news for Bulls

Team to play Russia announced

Source: News24

More bad news arrived for the Blue Bulls yesterday: Victor Matfield's injury is worse than expected and will keep him from leading the side for a considerable time. Matfield is also one of the ten players announced from which the Bulls' Player of the Year will be chosen.

The knee injury which Matfied picked up in the warm-up match against the Cats at Ellis Park last Saturday is not responding to treatment as expected and is likely to keep him sidelined him for up to six weeks. The initial report indicated only a month.

The new prognosis means Matfield will probably miss the Bulls first Super 14 match against the Cheetahs on 10 February, as well as their clash with the Brumbies the following weekend.

This makes the Bulls warm-up match against Stormers at Newlands on Saturday an mportant trial for Gary Botha and Francois van Schouwenburg especially. Botha will captain the Bulls on Saturday and with Matfield's vice-captain Fourie du Preez also out injured, Botha should prepare himself to lead the Pretoria side against the Cheetahs and the Brumbies too.

Van Schouwenburg, the new man in the No 5 jersey, has huge shoes to fill, but is not someone to shy away from a challenge.

Players of the Year

Matfield is one 10 players that have been nominated as the Blue Bulls' Rugby Player of the Year for 2005. The others are: Anton Leonard, Bakkkies Botha, Gary Botha, Jacques Cronjé, Wynand Olivier, Johan Roets, Fourie du Preez, Akona Ndungane and Bryan Habana.

Team to play Russia

The team to play Russia at Loftus tomorrow is:
Riaan van der Bergh; John Mametsa, Joey Mongale, Jacques Louis Potgieter, Trompie Montshinga; Len Olivier, Danie van der Merwe; Pedrie Wannenburg, Derek Kuün, Hilton Lobberts, Cliff Milton, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Ruan Vermeulen, Kobus van der Walt, Harry Vermaas.
Reserves: Adriaan Strauss, Werner Kruger, Tonie Gronum, Hendrik Blignaut, Lutho Nyenka, F J Pienaar, Dawie Steyn, Emile Verster, Jerome Williams.






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Thursday, January 19, 2006

 

Super 14: Focus on Highlanders


Source: thesilverfern.com
Article by Southern Man


For the Highlanders 2006 will hopefully be the year that they get back into the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The form of the franchise memebers during the NPC can only point to this year being a much more improved compared to the last few.

Changes
The Highlanders have had quite a few changes coming into the 2006 season, But to me the biggest change is that of the defensive coach. We have lost our defensive master mind in John Haggart to Canterbury, and have bought in North Otago and New Zealand divisional coach Glenn Moore. Haggart was the mind behind both the highlanders and Otago's defensive systems that most opposition teams found very hard to penetrate. But with him gone and Moore being an unknown quantity at the top level who knows what will happen to our much vaunted defence.

Big Paul Miller had a very consistent season, but when he got snubbed by all the higher level selectors he decided to leave our shores to earn some big money. So we have had to find a replacement at 8, this task was made harder when Grant Webb had to withdraw from selection to take some time off to get some surgeory. But we struck it lucky when Andrew Blowers came up on the draft. Blowers is a far more rounded player than Miller, and a more talented version of Webb. Blowers will compliment our loose trio well with his pace and skills. So no real lose in that change.

Highlanders and Otago stalwart Carl Hoeft farewelled New Zealand last year to join up with his old mate Kees Meeuws in France. But his departure won't be such a huge loss as Southlands Clarke Dermody and Otago's Chris King have shown that they are more than equiped to handle what ever is thrown at them. Then in the backround we have the Southland giant Jamie MacKintosh developing nicely.

Anthony Tuitavake's line breaking and great finishing ability will be a great loss to the Highlanders backline, but with the ever improving Neil Brew i think we can cover that loss.

Strengths:
Our major strength has to be our front five. With Dermody, Oliver, Hayman, Ryan and Donnelly we have a tight five that should be feared by most other super 14 teams. Our front row provides a very stable foundation from the scrum and offer great support for our loose forwards. Anton is still a great contribuiter with ball and hand around the fringes, while close to the try line he is nearly impossible to stop. While Clarke and Carl will be found right in the middle of all the dirty stuff. In the locking department we have two of the better ball winners going around in Ryan and Donnelly, But they are more than just ball winners they both have a great work ethic around the pitch.

Our mix in the halves should be a strong point too, as long as Evans doesn't get injured. Smylie was arguabley the find of the NPC and Cowan managed to get back to no3 in the All Black half back pecking order. Both are very strong runners with a decent enough passing game. But if Evans were to get injured this strength to turn into a very large weakness.

Weakness:
Our major weakness would be depth in a few areas, mainly first five and the midfield. at first five we have two untried rookies backing up Evans in the form of Ryan Bambry and Callum Bruce. Bambry has onlyplayed second division regularly as a starter and a season for Otago off the bench. While Bruce only has one NPC off the bench. While in the midfield we have no cover at second five ,while at centre we have Ben Smith who has played most of his first class rugby on the wing and Matt Saunders is also seen as an option to cover here. He started off his first class career at centre for North otago as a teenager.

The Draw
We have a very tough draw, espically the first five weeks where we have a three week trip to South africa, play the Crusaders away and our only home game being against the Blues. If we can get out of this with ten or fifteen points then we would have done very well.

Questions?
Who will the halfback be at seasons end?

How will Paul Williams come back to top level rugby?

Will the defence hold without John Haggart there?

Will Andrew Blowers be able to cope with the pace of Southern hemisphere rugby after being away for so long?

One to watch
Live wire flanker Tim Boyes will be one to keep a keen eye on if he gets a chance. Boyes was loaned to Southland for the 2005 NPC and made every post a winner, and by doing so he forced the hands of the Highlanders selectors. He is in the Richie mcCaw mould in that he is great on the ground and has the uncanny ability to get a turn over in the blink of an eye, he also has a brillant defensive work rate.

Prediction.
The first five weeks are very crucial if we start well then I think we could be a good bet for the semi's. But if we struggle then it could be a long season. I think we will manage quite well in that tough period. So I forsee a finish somewhere between 3rd and 7th.
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Brannasnacht: Rugby legends of the past - Pre 1990



In keeping with our weekly themes, I thought it might be nice to remember the rugby legends of yesteryear. I have split it into pre 1990 and post 1990, but tonight we will focus on the pre 1990 era(Sorry PissAnt, you can use Fleckie next time).

As usual we will get together at 21H00 and remember although the nicknames will be rugby related, the discussion is all but rugby related. And I only ask ONCE. Looking forward to tonight and remember to bring your favourite drink.

Should you need help in selecting your legend and to get more information on him, please visit http://www.genslin.us/bokke/.

Please note that some moderation might be used tonight.





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Super 14: Cheetahs to play inexperienced Force squad



Source: News24

Bloemfontein - The Cheetahs and the Western Force of Australia clash in Perth this weekend and will both be looking for a morale-boosting win in this warm-up ahead of a grueling Super 14 season.

The Western Force coach John Mitchell named a relatively inexperienced squad to take on the Bloemfontein-based team with 19 of the 27 players making their first appearance at this level.

Of the players with Super 12 experience only prop Angus Scott and locks John Welborn and David Pusey have more than 20 caps.

The match, to be played at the Subiaco Oval on Sunday, will go a long way in realizing which of these new franchises will last the pace in this competition.

The Cheetahs can boast four Springboks

The Cheetahs can boast four incumbent Springboks in their starting lineup with flyahlf Meyer Bosman, scrumhalf Michael Claasens, prop Os Durandt and flank Juan Smith all having represented their country last year.

Added to this the SA team boast Keith Lowen, a one-time All Black who has made 83 appearances for Waikato in New Zealand's NPC (domestic provincial competition) and 55 for the Chiefs in the Super 12.

The Cheetahs have an excellent opportunity this weekend to gain valuable experience against a fledgling team and could quite conceivably come home with an away win, boosting confidence ahead of a marathon away trip in the competition proper.

Cheetahs coach Rassie Erasmus, well known locally for his tactical acumen, will definitely come back with key information of securing a Super 14 win against the new Australian franchise.

The Western Force squad:

Richard Brown, Vitori Buatava, Pek Cowan, Scott Daruda, Tim Davidson (vc), Gavin Debartolo, Josh Fuimaono, Josh Graham, Gareth Hardy, James Hilgendorf, Matt Hodgson, Luke Holmes, Brock James, Tajhon Mailata, Tai McIsaac (c), David Te Moana, Pat O'Connor, Chris O'Young, Alexander Peden, David Pusey, Haig Sare, Angus Scott, Brett Stapleton, Ben Ward, John Welborn, AJ Whalley, Matt Windle.

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Super 14: AJ back for the Sharks


The Sharks have announced their team to take on the Leopards tomorrow night in Durban.

Dick Muir has followed the Bulls and Cats’ example of a week ago and picked two teams to take on the Leopards.

In what I am sure will be a relief for most Shark’s fans, AJ Venter will be in action to partner Albert van der Berg in one of the teams.

Muir has also partnered Ruan Pienaar and Percy Montgomery as the halfback pairing in the one team, with Sandile Nxumalo doing duty at number 9 in the other team.

The Sharks teams have been named the Great White team and the Raggies.

Teams:

Great White
Backs
JP Pietersen, Odwa Ndungane, Craig Burden, Grant Rees, Brad Barrit, Steve Meyer, Sandile Nxumalo

Forwards
Braam Immelman, Nico Breedt, Solly Tyibilika, Steven Sykes, Johan Ackerman, Pierre du Toit, Bismarck du Plessis, Danie Saayman

Ruggies
Backs
Greg Goosen, Dusty Noble, Gcobani Bobo, Andries Strauss, Brett Hennessey, Percy Montgomery, Ruan Pienaar

Forwards
Jacques Botes, Daniel Farani, Warren Britz, Albert van den Berg, AJ Venter, Brent Moyle, Jody Jenneker, Deon Carstens
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Rugby Administration: The transformation bugbear today (2

The close of 2005 saw the obligatory semi-final clashes between the existing powerhouses of SA rugby with the teams who are leaders in transformation, the Lions and WP, both losing to the “black wingers only” sides the Cheetahs and Bulls. In the final we saw the obligatory black wingers from the Bulls, but the Cheetahs also played Kabamba Floors aside from one wing and their fullback. Jake White followed this up with a similar strategy in his EOYT. And the present state of transformation in rugby?

With Jake White playing the obligatory “black wings only” approach to transformation of rugby in Europe he did black rugby no favours. So with the end of the season, where do we stand now?

The EOYT did black rugby players no favours

In 2004 Jake White went to Europe with what was then a record number of black players in the Bok squad. Brian Van Rooyen claimed quotas were dead and transformation was in. In 2005 the squad was back to its Straueli-esque best. Out of the 28 players selected, there were nine black players. The usual suspects, with Wayne Julies, Breyten Paulse, Bryan Habana, Lawrence Sephaka and Solly Tybilika among the names. Only Paulse, Sephaka and Habana actually got game time. A far cry from a team that fielded six black players in the match 22 against Australia at Ellis Park.

At the end of the season, Jake White could find nine players, but only three who actually got real game time. Much like Straueli.

Promising youngsters like Jongi Nokwe, Earl Rose, Tim Dlulane and Bevan Fortuin were left at home.

The “Charter”

The predators are gathering as the sickening zebra that is SARU stumbles from one scandal to another. The politicians and ANCYL in particular are annoyed with rugby. SARU are summonsed to a parliamentary sports committee meeting to explain their lack of transformation. Unlike government the excuse ‘legacy of apartheid’ is not open to them.

Instead of using the chance to display their management diversity SARU sends two old style Afrikaners to face the sports committee, Willie Basson and Johan Prinsloo. They present SARU with a “Charter” on transformation, similar in style to the BEE Charters the Financial Sector, IT and Mining created to escape the effects of the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act.

The Charter contains a scorecard and weighting. It also contains mysterious ‘penalties’ for non compliance. The most controversial part of the weighting in the scorecard is that players reflecting racial demographics of the country counts for 60 points out of 100. This completely misses the real origin of rugby players, i.e. skills development and investment in the youth.

The SARU directive: Thou shalt….

In December Mveleli Ncula of SARU directed that each Super 14 team should have eight black players in its squad, six in the match day 22 and 4 in the starting XV. The media was stunned but, given that SARU was closed over the festive season, nothing more was said. Then in January there is a meeting between coaches and administrators. Ostensibly it is to let the coaches of the Super 14 share ideas and standardise the South African playing style to make things easier for Jake White. But Johan Prinsloo uses it to reiterate Mveleli Ncula’s “Thou Shalt…”-directive. A well known rugby website reports that this has been reduced to eight in the squad, four in the 22 and 2 in the run-on XV. But Johan Prinsloo refutes this in Business Day and on the SARU website and stands by Mveleli’s original pronouncement.

The Charter and the Directive lose other elements from sight

An excellent BEE contributor is one that scores 60 or above on the scorecard (out of 100). Co-incidence that the weight of player representation is counted at 60? It looks less and less that way. In a normal scorecard, the major weighting is given to ownership, skills development and procurement. A representative workplace is seen as only a 10% of the scorecard.

The focus of BEE is development and growth, with the idea that this will create representivity. But SARU does not see it this way. They want to impress and already unimpressed government. But, is government just unimpressed because of the slow pace of transformation? No. Their major gripe is the shambles in the management of SA Rugby. Transformation comes second. Every time Makinkese Stofile has threatened interference in SA Rugby it has been because of its inherent nepotism and corruption, and not just player representivity.

What does government really want?

When there’s an issue about player representivity, it has always been the discredited radical mouthpiece of Jacob Zuma, ANCYL that makes the noise. But ANCYL is the fringe of the ANC. The place where they put rabble rousers and not leaders. The last time ANCYL had good leadership was when twosome OR Tambo and NR Mandela were ANCYL heads. Anyone remember Peter Mokaba? Former Minister of the “highly influential” Department of Science Arts and Culture. Dies in mysterious circumstances of a lung disease when he’s too young to suffer it because of age. Who is the current head of ANCYL. Bet you can’t name him now.

No, government is not actually interested in black numbers on the field as much as what they are interested in the development of the game among black people.

My friend Sandile is from the Eastern Cape and he is a fanatical rugby supporter. Last year he interrupted an important urgent Saturday business meeting and said he couldn’t bear not watching the Boks play Australia. He is high up in the ANC too.

He also reckons that SARU are useless because they don’t understand that player representivity is a long term goal of government. Instead they should be concentrating to ensure that the game is played in the dusty streets of Katlehong and Alexandra and ensuring that the next generation of player represent the demographics of the country. The government knows that the numbers will come. They want to see leadership change. But not just that, they want to see the old style management go and a move to a more corporate style of management.

Well, SARU had that opportunity. But they elected to focus on the silliness of just ensuring the players are demographically representative, without focusing on growing the game, changing the leadership or changing the style of governance.

In the next article we look at the radical proposed changes SARU ignored to protect the fatcats at the top.
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McKeever: The Southern Spears Corporate Culture...........

Article by Tony McKeever, CEO of the Southern Spears.

I have seen the Willie Basson tome and missive and it is exhausting to read and penetrate the 80+ pages of biblical print.

Instead, the Southern Spears has authored its own "charter" or corporate culture and distributed it to its 3 unions leadership.

I happen to be in a paradoxical situation in that as custodian of the Southern Spears, one would imagine that I would need to be as prescriptive as possible to drive transformation and representivity of South African Rugby.

Instead, it has occurred naturally and I am absolutely awed by how rugby has brought our rugby communities and people together in a fellowship.

I expect another gathering of 15,000 people to demonstrate this point and if anyone is in the neighbourhood of East London on Saturday at 10H00 - get a RED something or other garment and come to the ABSA stadium and watch a festival of rugby - we will field over 150 rugby players with Border B playing EP B and then Border A playing EPA and then the Spears vs.s the Cats.

In Swellendam on the same day SWD have a game against Boland and will field another 44 players, so all in all we will have close on 200 senior elite rugby players playing on Saturday the 21st January - quite a statement for a mini franchise.

Here then is the Spears Charter.

Transformation Charter must be Our Corporate Culture

Too many organisations go about the wrong way in creating corporate culture change.

Corporate cultures are created by people and the change in corporate culture will only be changed by the people passionate about rugby in our three regions!

While there are many aspects and Steps that one can learn from corporate culture change, rather than pay lip service to a Transformation Charter, it needs to be dealt with in terms of execution, so that the Southern Spears and its three shareholder Unions, becomes a leader amongst rugby organisations in South Africa and abroad, quite simply because it represents some 2.5 million rugby supporters in this region and 10.5 million rugby supporters in the country.

I have suggested below, that there are Ten Steps that will help the Southern Spears and Border, Eastern Province and SWD, implement a new revitalised Rugby Corporate Culture and become respected organisations by our 3 Shareholder Unions executive, namely Border, Eastern Province and South Western Districts, our rugby clubs, schools, our Sponsors and rugby supporters. These are:

Step 1: Effective corporate culture change must begin with changing mindsets.

No change can be implemented without first a change in mindset. By changing mindsets, refer to the five components of mindsets, Blindspots, Assumptions, Complacency, Habits and Attitudes.

Changing mindsets is about uncovering blindspots with regard to areas for improvement. It is about questioning assumptions of thinking, behaviour and practices that are no longer relevant or useful. It is about reducing complacency in the workplace to increase innovation, productivity and performance.

Changing mindsets is about eliminating unproductive habits or practices that do not add value to rugby in our region. It is about inculcating a positive attitude towards oneself, work, people, the management and the Southern Spears as a whole.

With mindset change, one then is aware of the need to change the policies, procedures and practices accordingly.

Step 2: Successful organisations have corporate culture aligned to their visions, mission, strategies, goals and their environment.

It is generally agreed that the purpose of corporate culture is to develop an internal environment that is conducive for people to perform effectively. However, a corporate culture will only be relevant and useful if it is aligned to the Southern Spears vision, mission, strategies, goals and the external environment it operates in.

What this implies, is that the Southern Spears, must first get its vision and mission right before deciding on the desired corporate culture. Of course, having determined the right vision and mission it can then formulate the relevant goals and strategies.

In the case of the Southern Spears, the culture change led by our leadership, should focus on aligning the culture towards the new revitalised mission for Southern Spears to "Make It The People’s Team!" and become the best rugby organisation in the world.

Step 3: To achieve credibility and win commitment of people, policies, procedures and practices must be consistent with the new culture. Consistency is an important factor in gaining credibility of any change program.

Saying one thing and doing another thing is the surest way of losing credibility Once a new culture is identified and the desired core values and behaviour communicated to employees, it is important to simultaneously change the existing policies, procedures and practices in the workplace to align to the new culture.

Thus, for example if a new culture promotes openness, it is important to share information and disseminates relevant information freely and openly based on needs rather than hierarchy.

Step 4: To get a buy in of corporate culture change requires a strong rationale It is true that most culture change takes a lot of effort and time to overcome resistance. An effective way to overcome resistance is provide a strong, compelling and sound rationale for the culture change.

Such a rationale must often incorporate not just what is good for the Southern Spears but also for the individuals derived from the shareholders of the Southern Spears. It should also communicate to the 3 Unions staff, that such a culture should also add meaning to their work and bring about personal satisfaction in the process.

Step 5: To ensure company-wide internalisation of the new culture, the Southern Spears should utilise every channel of communication and every opportune occasion to promote and communicate the new belief system, core values and desired patterns of behaviour to every level of staff from the top right down to the lowest level of staff.

The Southern Spears should use formal and informal channels of communication to undertake influence and educate others on the new culture.

Step 6: To achieve deep and sustainable culture change, requires a participative approach. Culture change is by nature a deep and fundamental change.

Such a change requires not just opening up minds but also touching hearts, which is what the Southern Spears are about. Passion and Making It The Peoples Team! People must really not just think it but they must really feel it before they behave in the way of the desired culture.

As the saying goes, "People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care". Showing care goes beyond opening one's mind, it touches the heart.

Step 7: The commitment of the Southern Spears 3 Unions top management and Coaches, is essential for the success of culture change. The success of culture change requires union-wide acceptance.

A limited change in ways of thinking and working within a small unit or department does not constitute a culture change in organisation. To have company-wide practice of new corporate culture requires the commitment of the Southern Spears and the top management and coaches of Border, Eastern Province and South Western Districts.

Commitment here refers to not only the initial launching but the continued support and follow through.

Step 8: To speed up culture change leverage on "opinion leaders"

Every resource is needed to help speed up the culture change process. A good way to tap into the Southern Spears resource is to seek out "opinion leaders" to assist in promoting the new culture.

Step 9: Creating A Powerful Dream Of The New Culture – which is ‘To Win!’ Every great achievement starts with a powerful dream. There is a compelling force of change in creating a powerful dream for the Southern Spears and Border, Eastern Province and SWD. And great changes come from powerful dreams.

Nelson Mandela had a powerful dream when he said in his inauguration speech on the 10th May 1994, "When you touch the soil of our land you feel a powerful sense of renewal".

The Southern Spears has millions of supporters throughout the three regions who touch, fall and get up off the soil of our land on a weekly basis. Our Southern Spears Team will go out there and do it for us today.

It should come across as exciting, inspiring and worthwhile for everybody associated with the Southern Spears.

Step 10: Recognise and reinforce success early and frequently.

A culture change is an ongoing process and may take a while to see tangible results. Too often leaders wait too long before they start to recognise, reward or reinforce the motivation of people in the process of implementing culture change.

If the wait at Southern Spears is too long, people will run out of stamina and the interest will simmer down and the assimilation process will come to a halt. It is thus important to look up for "early wins" and "small wins" along the way of the Southern Spears culture change implementation and recognise and reward people to ensure they stay motivated.

Let’s link it to our Matches.

Let’s link it to our Southern Spears Team, to our Border, Eastern Province and SWD teams and their feeder clubs and schools and what they do for us.

Let’s link it to our Mobile Rugby Training Units.

Let’s link it to our four Coaches and their coaching staff.

Let’s link it to our 3 Unions and to the Southern Spears.

Let’s ‘Make It Our People’s Team!’
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Super 14: Focus on Western Force


Source: thesilverfern.com
Article by Lee Grant


The advent of the 4th Oz Super team is the most exciting thing to happen in Oz rugby since the start of the professional era, but Aussies shouldn’t expect miracles from them.

Strengths
John Mitchell was responsible for getting the bulk of the Force players to Perth. He has a track record of getting the most out of limited material and is exactly the kind of coach the Force needed.

The back three, with Staniforth and Ioane on the wings and Shepherd at fullback, will be potent if they ever get the pill. Then there is utility Hilgendorf available to play any position from 10 to 15.

Forward leadership should be impressive from Sharpe, Cannon and Fava, but I fear the backs will be rudderless.

Weaknesses
The midfield is not distinguished and Junior Pelesasa might not be ready to start the season anyway the last I heard; so MacKay might have to play 12 with Hilgendorf slotting into 13. Daruda, the Oz 2005 U/19 captain might have to start as flyhalf before his time, or they might bring in the 2004 Taranaki flyhalf, James. It’s all a bit makeshift and I fear it will be an ongoing problem.

Scrums: It seemed last year that whenever LH Hardy came on to replace Dunning the NSW scrums went bad. NSW will miss the strong scrummaging hooker, Cannon, but the jury is still out on TH Fitter. I fear that the two likely Queensland locks won’t be of much help to the props either. Assistant coach Ben Darwin and Mitchell will have a huge job getting all the T5 on the same page.

Inexperience: One of the reasons we wanted a 4th team was to assess players who couldn’t get a chance elsewhere and it was inevitable that the Force would have more than their fair share of new guys who have no, or little, Super12 experience in their first year. It will not be surprising that, in the absence of an NPC to grade them outside of amateur rugby, a few of them have no credentials to play Super14 rugby, and some will be found wanting. This will apply especially to bench players.

Draw
Any draw is going to be tough for a brand new team and one of the intriguing side-shows of the Super14 will be that the Force will finish their season against the Cats, Cheetahs and Sharks in the RSA. On paper these 3 teams are candidates to be relegated; so performing well against the new Oz team in the last few rounds could be critical to their staying in the comp next year.

Questions
Nearly all the players are from the eastern states. Will they bond strongly together as strangers in a strange land, or will they flop? How successful will Mitchell be at getting the best out of his team leaders and at developing players so they can create a competitive team better than the parts, some of them spare parts, from the word ‘go’?

Look out for
Digby Ioane is one of the youngsters that the Reds were appalled at missing out on. I think he is a future Wallaby but we haven’t seen him play in anything like an NPC match yet and therefore don’t know if his junior performances will transpose into Super14 ability.

Brett Stapleton might not get onto the park but if he does he will be the fastest Oz pro rugby player we have ever had. The 18 y.o. has clocked 10.27 for 100 metres and although he still has a lot to learn about rugby, he isn’t the worst schoolboy wing I ever saw. Frankly, it will be a pleasure to see an Oz player with lightning pace after years of seeing other nations trot out their smiling speedsters.

Prediction
No miracles but 12th looks achievable and will be a fair effort in the first year.
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General discussions: Anton Rupert passed away




Source: Fin24.co.za

Dr Anton Rupert, undoubtedly South Africa's most successful entrepreneur and one of the greatest businessmen the country has produced, has died.

He was 89 years old.

His wife, Huberte, died just over two months ago after a long struggle against cancer.

His death follows shortly after the release of his biography, written by former editor of Die Burger Ebbe Dommisse and Willie Esterhuyse.

A spokesperson for the Ruperts confirmed on Thursday that he died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday night.

The Rupert business empire includes Richemont, which sports luxury names Cartier, Mont Blanc, Rothmans and Dunhill, and stakes in Distell, British American Tobacco, FirstRand, Absa, TransHex, Unilever, Nampak, TotalSA, Rainbow Chicken and Medi-Clinic through Remgro.

The Ruperts also hold stakes in e.tv and Vodacom through soon-to-be sold VenFin.

According to his biography, Rupert's business career spanned over sixty years. He started global empire with a personal investment of just £10 in 1941 and climbed the rich ladder to the Forbes list of 500 wealthiest families worldwide.

His assets are currently estimated at $1.7bn.

Anton Rupert was born in Graaf Reinet on 4 October 1916. Our most sincere condolences goes out to his family and friends. May you find peace in the knowledge that he has played a significant role in making our country what it is today. Thank you Dr Anton Rupert.




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Super 14: New boy Schalk Brits to lead Stormers against the Bulls

Source: SuperRugby

Newly contracted hooker Schalk Brits will lead a second string Stormers team in their warmup match against the Bulls on Newlands on Saturday. Naas Olivier will play his first game at flyhalf alongside Paul Delport, whilst many Bolanders get the chance to stake their claims.

Brits learned his rugby in the Western Cape and played for WP u.21. He was not highly rated in his home town, moved to Gauteng and made name for himself with the Lions and the Cats before he was contracted to return to his roots.

Stormer's coach Kobus Van der Merwe said that Brits was captaining the side in the absence of De Wet Barry, recently operated on but expected back for the opening Super 14 game, as he had impressed with his leadership skills in the time he had been in the Cape and was also a good leader of the Lions pack last season.

"When I left the Cape I never wanted to come back. I was so bitter about the way things were done here that all I wanted to do was beat Western Province on the field," said Brits on Wednesday.

"However, Nick contacted me last year and he convinced me that even if things have not changed completely just yet, they are in the process of changing. I felt that the style of rugby played by WP and the Stormers would suit me.

"Some say this is a second string team, but we are playing the Bulls' top side, so we can prove quite a point both individually and for the team."

Brits leads a side loaded with newcomers. Justin Peach will play his first game for the Stormers at fullback, while Bolander Piet van Zyl is in for his first game at centre. He partners Gus Theron, who is not even in the official Stormers squad at the moment. As expected, Naas Olivier plays his first game at flyhalf alongside Paul Delport, the South African under-21 captain who was drafted to the Cats last season.

Justin Melck is another in a long list of second stringers getting a chance to stake a claim. The flanker is partnered by Hendrik Gerber, who played Currie Cup rugby last year but was injured for the entire 2005 Super 12 campaign.

Bolanders certainly get more of a look-in under the new management than they did under the old. Henk Eksteen is at lock for this game, while it is anticipated that Jonghi Nokwe and Ryno Benjamin, who have impressed in training, will play the final warmup game against the Spears.

Stormers team: Justin Peach, Egon Seconds, Piet Van Zyl, Gus Theron, Tonderai Chavahanga, Naas Olivier, Paul Delport, David Hendricks, Justin Melck, Hendrik Gerber, Gerrie Britz, Henk Eksteen, Attie Winter, Schalk Brits (captain), Dougie Wheatley.

Reserves: Huia Edmonds, Tommy Dixon, Duimpie Theron, Mpho Mbiyozo, Charl Blom, Jacques Badenhorst / Sarel Potgieter, Johan Pietersen.
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Super 14: Focus on Auckland Blues


Source: thesilverfern.com
Article by Mingster

There is a fresh look to the Blues in 2006, with a new coach, and core of players leaving the franchise. After a disappointing 2004 and 2005 season where they finished 7th despite a late surge, they will be out to impress this season after successful Auckland and North Harbour NPC campaigns.

Changes

There was much controversy over the selection of the 2006 Blues squad, and in the end, one must say the 28-man is weaker than expected largely because of the implementation of the draft system which has seen talents such as Brad Mika, Paul Williams, Isaia Toeava, Andrew Blowers and Sam Tuitupou drafted to other franchises. From a NZ rugby standpoint, this is great news as it allows the chance for the above to obtain consistent game time, but from a Blues point of view, they should feel robbed. Nucifora was forced to pick the flaky Rua Tipoki by the NZRFU, and as a consequence, they had to let an All Black go.

There is a record nine Harbour players in the squad, compared to five in 05, and four in 04. The newcomers include lanky blindside-cum-lock Anthony Boric, hardworking lock Kurtis Haiu, under-rated Northland halfback John Senio, the unheralded prop Mike Noble and pacy outside backs George Pisi and Vili Waqaseduadua. The Blues have gained the services of the returning Troy Flavell, who will be out to impress after being lured back to NZ by Graham Henry. Brent Ward and Anthony Tuitavake will also be playing in Blues' colours in 06, after representing the Hurricanes and Highlanders respectively last year.

Altogether there are 10 changes from the squad in 05, and the most notable are the departures of Xavier Rush, Mils Muliaina, Carlos Spencer and the unavailability of Jerome Kaino.

Gains: Anthony Boric, Tim Dow, Troy Flavell, Kurtis Haiu, Mike Noble, George Pisi, Anthony Tuitavake, Rua Tipoki, Vili Wagaseduadua, Brent Ward

Losses: Taufa’ao Filise, Jerome Kaino, Sam Tuitupou, Mils Muliaina, Xavier Rush, David Gibson, Tom Harding, Rudi Wulf, Brad Mika

Strengths

With half of the squad possessing international experience, the Blues are a very impressive side on paper as usual. Even with Muliaina moving to the Chiefs, the Blues still have the most potent set of outside backs in the competition with All Black wingers Joe Rokocoko and Doug Howlett, as well as exciting utility Isa Nacewa and the ever reliable Brent Ward.

The tight five has a solid look to it, with Rawlinson the only one without All Black credentials, although he will come close once he is eligible in June. Ali Williams has improved vastly, and will be the lineout kingpin, and there will be good backup from the rugged Rawlinson as well as the promising Haiu and Boric. The scrum will be vital to securing good ball for the lethal backs to work from, and the Blues’ possess arguably the best scrum in the land with All Blacks Mealamu, Afoa, Taumoepeau and the world class Woodcock.

Weaknesses

It’s a new look Blues squad, and so far no captain has been named yet. Although there is a nucleus of experienced players such as Mealamu, Ali Williams, MacDonald, Devine, Howlett, Collins, picking a captain is not so straightforward. Collins led Auckland to the NPC title last year, but he isn’t assured of a starting spot in the Blues. Some have called for Williams’ to shoulder the extra responsibility as a sign of his growing maturity, but it’s still probably a season too early. The Blues will miss Rush’s direct approach from previous seasons.

Luke McAlister will be vital to the team’s success, and will probably be utilized at second-five with Lavea at 10. Even though the backline is filled with potential, there is inexperience in the midfield as well as 10. Should Devine continue to struggle with injury problems, rookie John Senio would be next in line with Gibson ruled out of the S14. A lack of depth in key positions could be exposed should an injury crisis arise like in 05.

Draw

Only two home games in the first seven rounds should lead to a strong surge in the business end of the S14.

Questions

Who will be the captain? Angus MacDonald is my pick.
Can the Blues start well in the competition and will they lag behind again by mid-competition?
What will be the midfield combination?

Look out for

Isa Nacewa. The flying Fijian is a rare genuine utility with the ability to play right through the backline with the exception of halfback. He has applied for a dispensation to play for the All Blacks after representing Fiji for a few minutes in the 03WC. Had Nacewa been available last year, he would have came very close to making the UK touring squad. Even though he played 12 in the NPC, he will likely be used at fullback or centre, where his attacking skills will be very handy.

Likely starting XV

15 Nacewa, 14 Howlett, 13 Tuitavake, 12 McAlister, 11 Rokocoko, 10 Lavea, 9 Devine; 8 MacDonald (c), 7 Braid, 6 Collins, 5 Williams, 4 Rawlinson, 3 Afoa, 2 Mealamu, 1 Woodcock

Prediction

S14 Champions.
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