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Your Free guide to the 2012 Super Rugby season


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sup er r u g b y

Contents Welcome to your FREE guide to the 2012 INVESTEC SUPER RUGBY season.

NEW START: All Black Aaron Cruden is all set to spark the Chiefs backline.

Managing editor: Oliver Lee

INVESTEC SUPER RUGBY PREVIEW........................ 8 CRUSADERS................................................................ 11 CHIEFS ........................................................................ 12 BLUES........................................................................... 14 INVESTEC SUPER rugby DRAW 2012.................... 16-17 HIGHLANDERS ........................................................... 18 HURRICANES . ............................................................ 21 REDS............................................................................. 22 WARATAHS ................................................................. 22 BRUMBIES................................................................... 23 WESTERN FORCE........................................................ 24 REBELS......................................................................... 25 STORMERS.................................................................. 26 SHARKS........................................................................ 26 BULLS........................................................................... 29 CHEETAHS................................................................... 29 LIONS............................................................................ 29 ACC: ARE YOU UP FOR IT?........................................ 30

Publisher:

EditorIAL: PETER WHITE

hammersports@gmail.com

PHOTOGRAPHY: PHOTOSPORT PRODUCTION: HURLEY NEW ZEALAND LIMITED Printing: WEBSTAR, MASTERTON

PO Box 331-667, Takapuna, Auckland 0740, New Zealand T: 09 486 6966 E: oliver@oliverleepublications.co.nz

Copyright: Reproduction in whole or in part by any means is prohibited. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher. Although all material is checked for accuracy, no liability is assumed by the publisher for any loss due to use of material in this magazine.

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2012 s e a s on

Super Rugby preview Can the Reds repeat last year’s stunning victory or will the Crusaders once again be champions? How will the teams adapt to the three week break in June? Welcome to the new Super Rugby season. which coach Pat Lam says is the best he has worked with. But a lack of depth in key positions may be his biggest impediment to winning the title. The Chiefs have new coaches in Dave Rennie and Wayne Smith, plus inside backs Aaron Cruden and Sonny Bill Williams, so should be the most improved of the Kiwi sides. The Reds were worthy winners last year and are by far the strongest of the Aussie teams, losing just one key player and the injured Quade Cooper from their winning squad. The others are average at best, with Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor shifting to the feeble Rebels for cash, further diluting the already weak talent pool. The big news from South Africa is the massive clearance of players out of the highly successful Bulls, who will struggle to make the semi-finals. The Stormers are the strongest of the Africans and will be title contenders. The Super Rugby programme takes a breather in June when the All Blacks host Ireland in three much anticipated tests. For the first time since the British and Irish Lions toured in 2005, the All Blacks will play a three-test home series. Ireland are always popular visitors and will bring a highly competitive team, full of confidence after a strong World Cup last year when their stunning victory over Australia was one of the highlights of the tournament. MAGIC MOMENT: The Reds celebrate after last year’s Super Rugby final.

As the weather hits its summer peak, the longest Super Rugby season is underway with the promise of some brilliant attacking rugby to enjoy and the expectation of new stars to arise on the scene. Spectator numbers were down last year but hopes are high the fans will flood back to the games, especially after passion for rugby during last year’s World Cup reached levels not seen since the halcyon days of the 1950s and 1960s. The Crusaders once again will be the most likely of the New Zealand teams, with the revamped Rugby League Park giving the beleaguered franchise a home venue from round five. Other teams may have recruited flashier players and be singing their own praises louder, but there is steely determination by Todd Blackadder’s men to get the job done for the shaken folk of Canterbury. Ma’a Nonu and Piri Weepu have added lustre to the already shining jewels in the Blues squad,

8

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Ireland are more than capable of beating anyone on their day, but for whatever the reason they have never managed to get over the line yet against the mighty All Blacks. In 24 matches since 1905, the closest Ireland came to a celebration like no other was in 1973, when Ian Kirkpatrick’s men were held to a 10-10 draw at Lansdowne Road in Dublin.

IRELAND TOUR June 9 v All Blacks

Eden Park

7.35pm

June 16 v All Blacks

Christchurch

7.35pm

June 23 v All Blacks

Hamilton

7.35pm


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CRUS AD ERS

Shaken but still favourites Forced to play every game away from Christchurch, the Crusaders still made the final last year. With a more settled structure this season, they could nail their eighth title. Campaign Preview: Todd Blackadder is not big on hyperbole or talking up his team but the Crusaders boss is a delightfully straight shooter. What you see is what you get with Blackadder and he is a breath of fresh air because of it. His style is reflected in the Crusaders squad where perfect preparation, eliminating mistakes, playing to strengths and remaining humble have long been their yardstick to success. The Crusaders have plenty of rock stars in the squad but always seem to conjure up replacements who step up to be counted. Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Kieran Read, Wyatt Crockett, Ben and Owen Franks, Israel Dagg and Andy Ellis are world class players who can just about win the Super Rugby title on their own. But there are plenty of other threats throughout the squad. Sean Maitland is a quality finisher with plenty of gas, Robbie Fruean is determined to get rid of the minor handling and defensive lapses that have held him back, while Tom Marshall was probably the most improved player last year. Zac Guildford had an off-season to forget but with renewed focus will be hungry to prove himself again on the field. Much hype has surrounded first-five Tyler Bleyendaal since he burst onto the scene at age group level. If he gets a run he will want to show he is good enough to keep up with the other young gun first-fives around the country. The arrival of Luke Whitelock means for the first time four brothers in one Super Rugby squad. Despite the ability of his siblings, including World Cup winning lock Sam, many reputable analysts reckon Luke is the best of the brood. He will certainly learn plenty from McCaw and the excellent Matt Todd, who jumped ahead of the queue to be on stand-by for McCaw during the World Cup.

claiming their eighth Super Rugby title. And a first for Blackadder as coach. Who’s New: Blackadder has nailed a champion in 15 test All Black Tom Donnelly, who played 65 games for the Highlanders. Tom Taylor is a goal kicking five-eight of some skill, while flanker and NZ Under 20 captain Luke Whitelock is a rare talent. Who’s Through: Powerhouse Brad Thorn will be sorely missed and to a lesser extent Sonny Bill Williams. Clever halfback Kahn Fotuali’i, Matt Berquist and Jonathan Poff have also moved on. Likely Finish: Champions. The Reds ran over the Crusaders in last year’s final but that is unlikely to happen again with a less arduous travel schedule. Richie McCaw holding aloft another trophy will be a sight worth waiting for. CRUSADERS SQUAD Backs: Tyler Bleyendaal, Daniel Carter, Ryan Crotty, Israel Dagg, Andy Ellis, Robbie Fruean, Zac Guildford, Willi Heinz, Sean Maitland, Tom Marshall, Tom Taylor, Adam Whitelock. Forwards: Nicholas Barrett, Wyatt Crockett, Tom Donnelly, Corey Flynn, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Ben Funnell, Ross Kennedy, Quentin MacDonald, Richie McCaw, Patrick Osborne, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Matt Todd, Joe Wheeler, Sam Whitelock, George Whitelock, Luke Whitelock.

Website: www.crusaders.co.nz Tickets: www.ticketdirect.co.nz or see website for details. Contact: PO Box 755, Christchurch Phone: 03 379 8300

TOP CLASS: Wyatt Crockett was named 2011 Super Rugby Player of the Year.

If the All Blacks in the squad get through the international window break in June unscathed, it is hard to see anyone stopping the Crusaders Visit our websites www.GoughsCat.co.nz, www.facebook.com/goughcat, or phone Goughs on 0800 93 39 39.

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C H I E FS

Changing of the guard A new coaching dream team and celebrity players has sparked unprecedented interest in the Chiefs region. The drums are beating this could be their year. Campaign Preview: Hope springs eternal in the Chiefs heartlands of Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Counties-Manukau. Since Super Rugby began back in 1996, the luckless fans have enjoyed just one forgettable trip to the final back in 2009, when they were flogged 61-9 by the brutal Bulls. Apart from one other visit to the semis in 2004, the Chiefs have been the worst performed of all the NZ franchises. But things are looking up. There is a new coaching panel of Dave Rennie and former All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith, who take over from Ian Foster after eight unfulfilled seasons in charge. Rennie and Smith are both coaches the players love, they are technically as good as anyone but have superior man management skills. Website: www.chiefs.co.nz Tickets: 0800 4 CHIEFS or see website for details Contact: PO Box 4292, Hamilton East, Hamilton 3247 Phone: 07 853 0231

The new regime has attracted serious talent in All Blacks’ inside backs Aaron Cruden and Sonny Bill Williams. If centre Richard Kahui can stay on the field and off the physio’s table then the Chiefs’ backs could cut some merry capers. Southland’s Robbie Robinson joins the backline talent but he may not get much game time, with the attacking brilliance of Tim Nanai-Williams at fullback. Up front the Chiefs have often been seen as a soft touch, and that’s a fair call the way their tight five has performed. But there is a likely look about the pack in 2012, with the surprising decision to select

CO-CAPTAIN: Liam Messam will share the leadership duties with Craig Clarke.

two captains ensuring no lack of motivation to perform. Loose forward Liam Messam and lock Craig Clarke will share the duties and both are follow-me sort of leaders. Big Ben Afeaki had a fine campaign last year and the North Harbour tighthead is an All Blacks contender if he can consistently dominate his side of the scrum. Hooker Hika Elliott was surprisingly left out of the All Blacks World Cup squad last year so has plenty to prove to both the Chiefs and All Blacks coaches. Where the Chiefs are as strong as any team in Super Rugby is in the loose forwards mix with Messam, Tanerau Latimer and Scott Waldrom all former All Blacks, plus the prodigiously talented Sam Cane and Fritz Lee will be fighting for spots. Likely Finish: 6th. A much improved performance on the 10th and 11th placings over the last two years and signs of a better time ahead. Who’s New: SBW, Aaron Cruden, Robbie Robinson and Samoan captain Mahonri Schwalger are the big buys, but keep an eye on Manawatu’s Fijian centre Aseli Tikoirototuma and Sevens star Declan O’Donnell. Who’s Through: All Blacks Mils Muliaina, Steven Donald, Mike Delaney, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Isaac Ross and Tana Umaga are all missing, as is Tongan rocket Taniela Moa and the well-performed Dwayne Sweeney. CHIEFS SQUAD Backs: Aaron Cruden, Andrew Horrell, Richard Kahui, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Brendon Leonard, Lelia Masaga, Tim Nanai-Williams, Maritino Nemani, Declan O’Donnell, Robbie Robinson, Aseli Tikoirototuma, Sonny Bill Williams, Jackson Willison. Forwards: Ben Afeaki, Alex Bradley, Sam Cane, Craig Clarke, Shane Cleaver, Hika Elliot, Mike Fitzgerald, Romana Graham, Tanerau Latimer, Fritz Lee, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Mahonri Schwalger, Toby Smith, Ben Tameifuna, Sona Taumalolo, Kane Thompson, Scott Waldrom.

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B LUES

Star imports raise hopes All Blacks Piri Weepu and Ma’a Nonu have moved north to give the Blues a world class backline and their fans renewed optimism.

Website: www.theblues.co.nz Tickets: www.ticketmaster.co.nz or see website for details. Contact: PO Box 56-152, Dominion Road, Auckland 1446 Phone: 09 815 4850

Campaign Preview: The Blues have a history of going outside their own large catchment area for key playmakers in the No 9 and 10 jerseys. This year in comes Piri Weepu to apparently fill roles in both positions, though clearly his skill base and physique screams halfback. The Blues already have imported Wellingtonian Alby Mathewson as an astute halfback, with a deadly break around the rucks when he is confident and getting regular starts.

Tighthead prop John Afoa’s departure to Ulster opens up an opportunity to the highly promising Charlie Faumuina, who has the core skills and startling pace for a big man, but the real test will come when he locks horns with the likes of the grizzly Bulls front row. Back-up men Tevita Mailau, Pauliasi Manu and hooker/prop Tom McCartney may have crucial roles to play as injuries take toll. How they perform may be pivotal in the end.

The key for coach Lam may well be to get the talented duo to scrap over the halfback’s jersey and put his faith in young Auckland first-five Gareth Anscombe. He is certainly good enough, wise enough and is brimming with self-confidence like all top No 10s, plus his goal kicking is far superior to any other player in the squad. His development is worth watching.

One thing you can always guarantee with the Blues is entertainment. Ma’a Nonu’s arrival to join up with Renee Ranger, Isaia Toeava and Benson Stanley means plenty of that. The return of perfectionist Rudi Wulf out wide will add solidity to the unstructured mayhem that may erupt around him, while flying Fijian David Raikuna may shock defenders with his pace on the hard late-summer grounds.

The other problem area since the last of the Blues three titles back in 2003 has been getting the right No 8 to work in combination with the halfback. Lam has put his faith in old warhorse Brad Mika, who was an All Black back in 2003 and last strode Eden Park with any command back in 2007 for Auckland. If he can handle the pace after serious leg injuries then he will be an asset but there is a worrying lack of depth at No 8. CORE SKILLS: Piri Weepu’s best position to spark the Blues is halfback.

Who’s New: Superstars Piri Weepu and Ma’a Nonu join from the Hurricanes to ignite an already talented backline. Rudi Wulf returns from a year in France, while NZ U20s first-five Gareth Anscombe steps up. Young winger George Moala is a budding talent. Who’s Through: Backs Stephen Brett, Luke McAlister, Jared Payne, Joe Rokocoko and Chris Smylie are all gone, as is All Blacks prop John Afoa. Likely Finish: 4th. The Blues will play some cracking rugby but may not quite have the depth to go past another semi-final finish. BLUES SQUAD Backs: Gareth Anscombe, Michael Hobbs, Alby Mathewson, George Moala, Lachie Munro, Ma’a Nonu, David Raikuna, Rene Ranger, Benson Stanley, Sherwin Stowers, Isaia Toeava, Piri Weepu, Rudi Wulf. Forwards: Anthony Boric, Daniel Braid, Luke Braid, Charlie Faumuina, Jerome Kaino, Chris Lowrey, Tom McCartney, Tevita Mailau, Pauliasi Manu, Keven Mealamu, Brad Mika, Liaki Moli, Filo Paulo, Peter Saili, Angus Ta’avao, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock.

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SEAS O N’S d r aw

Investec Super Rugby 2012 Game S GAME

VENUE

NZ TIME

WEEK ONE

GAME

VENUE

NZ TIME

WEEK SIX (Daylight Saving ends in Australia and New Zealand on April 1)

Fri, 24 Feb

Blues

v

Crusaders

Auckland

7.35 pm

Fri, 30 March

Highlanders v

Rebels

Invercargill

7.35 pm

Fri, 24 Feb

Brumbies

v

Force

Canberra

9.40 pm

Sat, 31 March

Hurricanes

v

Cheetahs

Wellington

5.30 pm

Sat, 25 Feb

Bulls

v

Sharks

Pretoria

6.10 am

Sat, 31 March

Chiefs

v

Waratahs

Hamilton

7.35 pm

Sat, 25 Feb

Chiefs

v

Highlanders Hamilton

7.35 pm

Sat, 31 March

Brumbies

v

Sharks

Canberra

9.40 pm

Sat, 25 Feb

Waratahs

v

Reds

Sydney

9.40 pm

Sat, 31 March

Force

v

Reds

Perth

11.40 pm

Sun, 26 Feb

Stormers

v

Hurricanes

Cape Town

4.05 am

Sun, 1 April

Lions

v

Crusaders

Johannesburg

4.05 am

Sun, 26 Feb

Lions

v

Cheetahs

Johannesburg

6.10 am

Sun, 1 April

Stormers

v

Bulls

Cape Town

6.10 am

Bye: Rebels

Bye: Blues

WEEK TWO

WEEK SEVEN (Easter)

Fri, 2 March

Chiefs

v

Blues

Hamilton

7.35 pm

Thu, 5 April

Rebels

v

Blues

Melbourne

9.40 pm

Fri, 2 March

Rebels

v

Waratahs

Melbourne

9.40 pm

Fri, 6 April

Hurricanes

v

Sharks

New Plymouth

7.35 pm

Fri, 6 April

Reds

v

Brumbies

Brisbane

9.40 pm

v

Chiefs

Perth

11.40 pm

Stormers

Dunedin

7.35 pm

Sat, 3 March

Lions

v

Hurricanes

Johannesburg

6.10 am

Sat, 3 March

Highlanders v

Crusaders

Dunedin

7.35 pm

Fri, 6 April

Force

Sat, 3 March

Reds

v

Force

Brisbane

9.40 pm

Sat, 7 April

Highlanders v

Sun, 4 March

Cheetahs

v

Bulls

Bloemfontein

4.05 am

Sun, 8 April

Cheetahs

v

Lions

Welkom

1.00 am

Sun, 4 March

Stormers

v

Sharks

Cape Town

6.10 am

Sun, 8 April

Bulls

v

Crusaders

Pretoria

3.05 am

Bye: Brumbies

Bye: Waratahs

WEEK THREE

WEEK EIGHT

Fri, 9 March

Crusaders

v

Chiefs

Napier

7.35 pm

Fri, 13 April

Blues

v

Sharks

Auckland

7.35 pm

Sat, 10 March

Force

v

Hurricanes

Perth

1 2.05 am

Fri, 13 April

Force

v

Waratahs

Perth

11.10 pm

Sat, 10 March

Brumbies

v

Cheetahs

Canberra

5.35 pm

Sat, 14 April

Crusaders

v

Stormers

Christchurch

7.35 pm

Sat, 10 March

Highlanders v

Waratahs

Dunedin

7.35 pm

Sat, 14 April

Brumbies

v

Rebels

Canberra

9.40 pm

Sat, 10 March

Reds

v

Rebels

Brisbane

9.40 pm

Sun, 15 April

Cheetahs

v

Chiefs

Bloemfontein

3.05 am

Sun, 11 March

Sharks

v

Lions

Durban

4.05 am

Sun, 15 April

Lions

v

Bulls

Johannesburg

5.10 am

Sun, 11 March

Bulls

v

Blues

Pretoria

6.10 am

Bye: Highlanders, Hurricanes, Reds

Fri, 16 March

Chiefs

v

Brumbies

Tauranga

7.35 pm

Fri, 20 April

Highlanders v

Blues

Dunedin

7.35 pm

Sat, 17 March

Stormers

v

Blues

Cape Town

6.10 am

Fri, 20 April

Reds

v

Stormers

Brisbane

9.40 pm

Sat, 17 March

Hurricanes

v

Highlanders Wellington

7.35 pm

Sat, 21 April

Hurricanes

v

Crusaders

Wellington

7.35 pm

Sat, 17 March

Waratahs

v

Force

Sydney

9.40 pm

Sat, 21 April

Waratahs

v

Rebels

Sydney

9.40 pm

Sun, 18 March

Sharks

v

Reds

Durban

4.05 am

Sun, 22 April

Sharks

v

Chiefs

Durban

3.05 am

Sun, 18 March

Rebels

v

Cheetahs

Melbourne

6.10 pm

Sun, 22 April

Bulls

v

Brumbies

Bloemfontein

5.10 am

Bye: Stormers

WEEK FOUR

WEEK NINE

Bye: Cheetahs, Force, Lions

Bye: Bulls, Lions, Crusaders

WEEK FIVE

WEEK TEN

Fri, 23 March

Blues

v

Hurricanes

Auckland

7.35 pm

Fri, 27 April

Blues

v

Reds

Auckland

7.35 pm

Fri, 23 March

Rebels

v

Force

Melbourne

9.40 pm

Sat, 28 April

Lions

v

Brumbies

Johannesburg

5.10 am

Sat, 24 March

Waratahs

v

Sharks

Sydney

5.35 pm

Sat, 28 April

Chiefs

v

Hurricanes

Hamilton

7.35 pm

Sat, 24 March

Crusaders

v

Cheetahs

Christchurch

7.35 pm

Sat, 28 April

Force

v

Stormers

Perth

9.40 pm

Sat, 24 March

Brumbies

v

Highlanders Canberra

9.40 pm

Sun, 29 April

Cheetahs

v

Highlanders Bloemfontein

Sun, 25 March

Bulls

v

Reds

Pretoria

4.05 am

Sun, 29 April

Waratahs

v

Crusaders

Sun, 25 March

Lions

v

Stormers

Johannesburg

6.10 am

Bye: Bulls, Rebels, Sharks

Bye: Chiefs

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All times listed below are New Zealand local times and were correct at time of print.

GAME

VENUE

NZ TIME

WEEK ELEVEN

GAME

VENUE

NZ TIME

INTERNATIONALS All Blacks v Ireland

Fri, 4 May

Hurricanes

v

Blues

Wellington

7.35 pm

Sat, 7 June

All Blacks

v

Ireland

Eden Park

7.35 pm

Fri, 4 May

Rebels

v

Bulls

Melbourne

9.40 pm

Sat, 16 June

All Blacks

v

Ireland

Christchurch

7.35 pm

Sat, 5 May

Chiefs

v

Lions

Pukekohe

7.35 pm

Sat, 23 June

All Blacks

v

Ireland

Hamilton

7.35 pm

Sat, 5 May

Brumbies

v

Waratahs

Canberra

9.40 pm

Sun, 6 May

Sharks

v

Highlanders Durban

Sun, 6 May

Cheetahs

v

Force

Bloemfontein

5.10 am

Fri, 29 June

Highlanders v

Chiefs

Dunedin

7.35 pm

Sun, 6 May

Crusaders

v

Reds

Christchurch

4.00 pm

Fri, 29 June

Rebels

v

Reds

Melbourne

9.40 pm

Sat, 30 June

Crusaders

v

Hurricanes

Christchurch

7.35 pm

Sat, 30 June

Force

v

Brumbies

Perth

9.40 pm

Sun, 1 July

Stormers

v

Lions

Cape Town

3.05 am

Bulls

v

Cheetahs

Pretoria

5.10 am

3.05 am

Bye: Stormers

WEEK TWELVE

WEEK SIXTEEN

Fri, 11 May

Blues

v

Lions

Auckland

7.35 pm

Sun, 1 July

Fri, 11 May

Waratahs

v

Bulls

Sydney

9.40 pm

Sat, 12 May

Highlanders v

Hurricanes

Dunedin

7.35 pm

Bye: Blues, Waratahs, Sharks

Sat, 12 May

Rebels

v

Crusaders

Melbourne

9.40 pm

Sun, 13 May

Sharks

v

Force

Durban

3.05 am

Sun, 13 May

Stormers

v

Cheetahs

Cape Town

5.10 am

Sun, 13 May

Reds

v

Chiefs

Brisbane

6.10 pm

Bye: Brumbies

WEEK THIRTEEN Fri, 18 May

Hurricanes

Sat, 19 May

Highlanders v

Sat, 19 May

Crusaders

Sat, 19 May Sun, 20 May

v

WEEK SEVENTEEN Fri, 6 July

Chiefs

v

Crusaders

Hamilton

7.35 pm

Fri, 6 July

Reds

v

Highlanders Brisbane

9.40 pm

Sat, 7 July

Blues

v

Force

Auckland

7.35 pm

Sat, 7 July

Waratahs

v

Brumbies

Sydney

9.40 pm

Sun, 8 July

Cheetahs

v

Stormers

Bloemfontein

1.00 am

Brumbies

Wellington

7.35 pm

Sun, 8 July

Lions

v

Rebels

Johannesburg

3.05 am

Bulls

Dunedin

5.30 pm

Sun, 8 July

Sharks

v

Bulls

Durban

5.10 am

v

Blues

Christchurch

7.35 pm

Bye: Hurricanes

Reds

v

Lions

Brisbane

9.40 pm

Cheetahs

v

Sharks

Bloemfontein

3.05 am

Sun, 20 May

Stormers

v

Waratahs

Cape Town

5.10 am

Sun, 20 May

Force

v

Rebels

Perth

6.35 pm

Bye: Chiefs

WEEK fourteen

WEEK EIGHTEEN Fri, 13 July

Hurricanes

v

Chiefs

Wellington

7.35 pm

Sat, 14 July

Brumbies

v

Blues

Canberra

5.30 pm

Sat, 14 July

Crusaders

v

Force

Christchurch

7.35 pm

Sat, 14 July

Reds

v

Waratahs

Brisbane

9.40 pm

Sat, 15 July

Stormers

v

Rebels

Cape Town

1.00 am

Fri, 25 May

Chiefs

v

Bulls

Hamilton

7.35 pm

Sun, 15 July

Sharks

v

Cheetahs

Durban

3.05 am

Sat, 26 May

Hurricanes

v

Rebels

Wellington

5.30 pm

Sun, 15 July

Bulls

v

Lions

Pretoria

5.10 am

Sat, 26 May

Blues

v

Highlanders Auckland

7.35 pm

Bye: Highlanders

Sat, 26 May

Brumbies

v

Reds

Canberra

9.40 pm

Sat, 26 May

Force

v

Lions

Perth

11.40 pm

Sun, 27 May

Cheetahs

v

Waratahs

Bloemfontein

3.05 am

THE FINALS WEEK ONE: QUALIFIERS ONE & TWO

Sun, 27 May

Sharks

v

Stormers

Durban

5.10 am

Bye: Team 1 and Team 2 July 20

Bye: Crusaders

July 21

WEEK FIFTEEN

Team 3

v

Team 6

Team 4

v

Team 5

Fri, 1 June

Crusaders

v

Highlanders Christchurch

7.35 pm

WEEK TWO: SEMIFINALS ONE & TWO

Fri, 1 June

Rebels

v

Brumbies

Melbourne

9.40 pm

July 27

Team 1

v

Lowest Ranked Qualifier Winner

Sat, 2 June

Blues

v

Chiefs

Auckland

7.35 pm

July 28

Team 2

v

Highest Ranked Qualifier Winner

Sat, 2 June

Waratahs

v

Hurricanes

Sydney

9.40 pm

Sun, 3 June

Lions

v

Sharks

Johannesburg

3.05 am

Sun, 3 June

Bulls

v

Stormers

Pretoria

5.10 am

Bye: Cheetahs, Force, Reds

WEEK THREE: FINAL SAT, AUGUST 4 FINAL

Winner of Semi 1 v

Winner of Semi 2

NB: Times, dates and venues subject to change

TOGETHER, WE’RE BUILDING NEW ZEALAND


HIG H LAND ERS CRUS AD ERS

New stadium new hope Coach Jamie Joseph restored pride in the Highlanders jersey last year and has some high profile recruits to aid his cause in 2012. Campaign Preview: No one was tougher on the park than Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph during his Otago playing days. Last year he carried that attitude through to his team in his debut season as coach and the players responded with some early spectacular and disciplined rugby. Sadly for Joseph and the Highlanders they could not sustain their great start and fell away alarmingly after looking a certainty to make the semis at one stage. The lack of depth and experience that hurt so much during the final half of the season may well be a factor in 2012, despite some high profile signings.

Website: www.highlandersrugby.co.nz Tickets:  www.ticketdirect.co.nz or see website for more details Contact: PO Box 6070, Dunedin 9054 Phone: 03 479 9280

All Blacks Andrew Hore and Hosea Gear are world class and along with Adam Thomson and Colin Slade are the stars of the no frills Highlanders. Slade’s injury curse was a huge blow last year and if fit his goal kicking could win the close games the Highlanders let slip last year. Ben Smith, Jimmy Cowan, Jared Hoeata and Jamie Mackintosh have also worn the black jersey and are consistently good performers. But the signing of English international No 8 James Haskell may turn out to be the best of them all. Joseph convinced the 26-year-old to miss the Six Nations and test himself in the world’s best competition. Haskell is a tough competitor who recently played in Europe with French giants Stade Francais and can play all three loose HIGH ROLLER: England No 8 James Haskell is a big drawcard for the Highlanders.

forward positions, which gives Joseph excellent cover for injuries. The days of dear old Carisbrook as the Highlanders main home venue are finally over and what a contrast with the replacement. The innovative glass roof on the new Forsyth Barr Stadium will guarantee perfect playing conditions every game and protection from the southern weather for the hardy fans. The Highlanders will not have the depth to challenge this year for the title but Joseph is building a new legacy in the deep south that will bear fruit in the not too distant future. Who’s New: Experienced All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore is a huge addition to the pack, as is English international No 8 James Haskell. Brilliant finisher Hosea Gear has moved south from the Hurricanes, while Bay of Plenty pair Chris Noakes and Callum Retallick, plus Kade Poki, will add value to the squad. Who’s Through: Up front big Tom Donnelly, Alando Soakai and Mahonri Schwalger will be missed. Backs Robbie Robinson, Sean Romans, James Paterson and Matt Saunders have all moved on. Likely Finish: 8th. The brilliant new home stadium will be a boost to the Highlanders with greater crowds anticipated. The team will not lack heart or vigour, but just lack more top class stars. Colin Slade’s fitness is critical to their chances. HIGHLANDERS SQUAD Backs: Kurt Baker, Jimmy Cowan, Tamati Ellison, Hosea Gear, Kendrick Lynn, Chris Noakes, Siale Piutau, Kade Poki, Colin Slade, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Shaun Treeby, Telusa Veainu. Forwards: Josh Bekhuis, Nick Crosswell, Elliot Dixon, Ma’afu Fia, John Hardie, James Haskell, Jarrad Hoeata, Andrew Hore, Chris King, Jamie Mackintosh, Nasi Manu, Bronson Murray, Culum Retallick, Jason Rutledge, Adam Thomson, Doug Tietjens.

STRENGTH OF THE SOUTH 18

www.superrugby.co.nz


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hur r ican es CRUS AD ERS

Capital shake up needed Last season was one to forget for the Hurricanes as former Crusader Mark Hammett had a tough initiation as Head Coach. Will his sophomore season be any better? Campaign Preview: Let’s get one thing straight. Last year’s 9th place was not an exceptionally bad season for the Hurricanes, despite all the vitriol that flew at new coach Hammett. History shows that since 1996 the Hurricanes have finished 8th or worse on 10 occassions, and have only ever made one Super Rugby final. It was hardly a Crusaderslike dynasty Hammett walked into. But certainly the poor performances on the field, particularly the off-field shenanigans, made 2011 a year to forget. Hammett and assistant coach Alama Ieremia have a new-look squad with lesser credentials than the departing posse of nine current or former All Blacks. But the new faces have years of experience giving their guts to teams which is exactly what the Hurricanes need. The likes of Ben May, Chris Smylie, Tim Bateman and Tusi Pisi have never let a team down in their careers. Beauden Barrett will share first-five duties with Pisi and his silky smooth skills will be tested at Super Rugby level. But he has the goods to flourish and has an assured future, as does halfback TJ Perenara who had his first season for Wellington while still at school. Anyone who lives by his motto “hard work always beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” is made of the right stuff. World Cup All Blacks Conrad Smith, Cory Jane and Victor Vito need to lead by example and inspire the Hurricanes. They have the mana, the playing skills and dedication to the jersey needed to dig the franchise out of the hole made during last year’s acrimony. In Smith they have a new captain who should relish the leadership role.

Matu’u, but it will be a steep learning curve for all of them over the next few months. Who’s New: Good, solid provincial players like Tim Bateman, Richard Buckman, TJ Perenara, Tusi Pisi, Chris Smylie and Ben May. Who’s Through: Piri Weepu, Ma’a Nonu, Aaron Cruden, Hosea Gear, Andrew Hore, Bryn Evans, John Schwalger, Neemia Tialata and Rodney So’oialo – all All Blacks and all gone. Likely Finish: 9th. It is the start of a new era in the patchy history of the Hurricanes and this group will take time to bed in together. Expect more passion than last year and improved results at home. HURRICANES SQUAD Backs: Beauden Barrett, Tim Bateman, Richard Buckman, Chris Eaton, Jayden Hayward, Cory Jane, Daniel Kirkpatrick, Alapati Leiua, Charlie Ngatai, TJ Perenara, Tusi Pisi, Mark Reddish, Julian Savea, Conrad Smith, Chris Smylie, Andre Taylor. Forwards: Michael Bent, James Broadhurst, Dane Coles, Jason Eaton, Reggie Goodes, David Hall, Jack Lam, Faifili Levave, Karl Lowe, Motu Matu’u, Ben May, Tristan Moran, Brad Shields, Jeremy Thrush, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Victor Vito.

Website: www.hurricanes.co.nz Tickets: www.ticketmaster.co.nz or see website for details. Contact: PO Box 7201, Wellington South Phone: 04 389 0020

CAPTAIN HURRICANE: All Black Conrad Smith will need to lead by example.

Unquestionably the biggest doubt lies over the front row resources after losing so much experience. Former Chiefs prop May shifted to the capital to play at tighthead and will hold his own against all comers but the other props in the squad are an unknown quantity. NZ Under 20 rep Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Reggie Goodes, Tristan Moran and Michael Bent are promising, as is hooker Motu

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A USTAD R ALI A CRUS ERS

Champion Reds lead Aussie charge The Reds won their first Super Rugby title last year and look just as strong ahead of the 2012 campaign. The Waratahs are the only other likely title contenders.

RED S

www.redsrugby.com.au

Last Year: Not since 2001 had the Reds made a semi-final so to go all the way and win the title was a revelation. They were innovative, entertaining and superbly drilled by coach Ewen McKenzie. REDS LIVEWIRE: Dynamic halfback Will Genia is a key to the Reds’ success.

Luck of the Draw: The Waratahs away is the toughest possible start, before two easier home games are followed by a daunting trip to South Africa to play the Sharks and Bulls. What’s New: The defending champions have lost just one player from last year’s squad in No 8 Leroy Houston to France. Academy lock David McDuling is a big lad at 115kg and regarded as one of the best Australian tight forward prospects for years. Brisbane State High School student Chris Feauai-Sautia has been picked aged 17 and if he gets a chance the centre/fullback is a talent worth watching. Who’s Through: Houston has departed to France and Quade Cooper is out until April, recovering from the serious knee injury he suffered in the World Cup. Cooper’s loss is huge as it was his ability to ignite attacks from anywhere that set the Reds on their way to the title. Former North Harbour star Mike Harris takes over, and is a class act and great goalkicker. He won’t have the attacking brilliance but won’t make the glaring errors either.

WA R ATA H S

www.waratahs.com.au

Last Year: A bizarre season as the Waratahs scored more tries than any other team in the regular season but missed the semi-finals. New coach Michael Foley wants a tougher approach as do their unimpressed, vocal fans. Luck of the Draw: There will be high emotion to kick things off with The Reds at home first up. The draw looks favourable with the Crusaders in Sydney and not having to play the Blues in 2012. What’s New: The Tahs have brought in a fair sprinkling of international experience. Exciting Cheetahs halfback Sarel Pretorius is an interesting signing, while Rocky Elsom and Adam AshleyCooper are great value. Others to join include Pat O’Connor, Chris Alcock, Bernard Foley and Dan Vickerman. Who’s Through: Wallaby fullback Kurtley Beale dropped a bombshell on NSW rugby by taking the big money at the Rebels. Veterans Al Baxter and Phil Waugh along with Sosene Anesi, Luke Burgess and Ryan Cross are other well known departees.

22

www.superrugby.co.nz

DECISION MAKER: Berrick Barnes is the brains behind the Waratahs’ attack.


b r um b i e s Last Year: It was the worst season ever for the once proud franchise with two Super Rugby titles to their name. To finish 13th was a disgrace and after the departure of their best players there is little hope of an improvement. www.brumbies.com.au

Luck of the Draw: Their first bye hits in round two which is hardly ideal, but the Brumbies first two home games are very winnable against the Force and Cheetahs before a NZ road trip. The draw is not a problem – getting fed-up fans to return to Canberra Stadium will be. What’s New: Former Springbok World Cup winning coach Jake White is the most important acquisition, and he has good support from Laurie Fisher and Stephen Larkham. The playing roster looks weak with no major signings for this season. White will want to rebuild the shattered culture and confidence of a once formidable power in Super Rugby. Who’s Through: A wholesale clear out has seen several poor performing players moved on, as well as some notable big names in Rocky Elsom, Matt Giteau, Tyrone Smith, Mark Chisholm and Adam Ashley-Cooper. There are just three Wallabies left in the squad but early indications are there is renewed enthusiasm and greater fitness levels than last year.

WORLD CLASS: Former Springboks’ boss Jake White has a big task at the Brumbies.

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www.rugbywa.com.au

Last Year: The Force got off to a poor start with one win from their first seven matches and never recovered. A 26-21 win over the Bulls in Perth was the highlight of a season which included several close losses that could have gone with the Force.

RECORD HOLDER: Nathan Sharpe is the most capped player in Super Rugby history.

Luck of the Draw: Perth fans will have a wait to see their team in action as they are drawn away for four of their opening five matches. It may be a good omen as the Force tend to finish stronger than they start. What’s New: Napolioni Nalaga. The 25-year-old Fijian winger has scored more than 50 tries in four years at French champions Clermont Auvergne, finishing top scorer in 2008 and 2009. He is big, fast and should bring huge excitement out west. Wallaby prop Salesi Ma’afu will be a huge help in gaining a stable scrum at last. Wallaby powerhouse flanker David Pocock is the new captain ahead of his veteran international teammate Nathan Sharpe. With Sharpe likely to move overseas at the end of the year, the 23-year-old Pocock can pick Sharpe’s brains before he goes and is set for a long period in charge. Pocock is as talented an openside flanker as any in world. He is a seriously tough character, who sets his own standards higher than most and will expect his teammates to follow his example. Naming him captain could be the best decision the Force have made. Who’s Through: Golden boy James O’Connor took the money and ran to the Rebels. Kiwi Willie Ripia left for personal reason and joins Matt Dunning, Scott Staniforth, Mark Bartholomeusz and Kiwis Tim Fairbrother and David Smith on the outer.

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FLAWED GENIUS: England’s Danny Cipriani had a poor campaign for the Rebels in 2011.

rebels

www.melbournerebels. com.au

Last Year: The debut season for the Rebels started well enough with thee good wins from seven games and some fanatical home support. But driven by woeful English first-five Danny Cipriani, the Rebels collapsed to lose their last nine matches. No fault of halfback Nick Phipps though, as the former Sevens star had an outstanding Super Rugby debut season. Luck of the Draw: The big-spending Rebels have a bye first round, which no one wants, and then they host the Waratahs and travel to the Reds. An extra week off might help them in this case. They finish with two matches in South Africa. What’s New: Without a doubt the biggest coup of the Super Rugby pre-season was the Rebels’ capturing Wallaby superstars Kurtly Beale and James O’Connor. Forget the hype about proving rugby has a foothold in Melbourne, it just means rich sponsors, but certainly they will captivate the team and supporters. Blues rejected lock James King could thrive in the environment. Who’s Through: The selection broom has swept out a bunch of journeymen in JP Du Plessis, Luke Rooney, Greg Sommerville, Kevin O’Neill, Sam Cordingley and Hoani McDonald. www.superrugby.co.nz

25


south afERS r ica CRUS AD

Pride on the line in the Republic The Stormers were the only South African team to make the semi-finals last year, which is a situation the other franchises are desperate to turn around this season.

Sto r M ERS

www.thestormers.com

Last Year: Making a home semi-final was a huge step up for the franchise after their last play-off spot was back in 2004. They won eight of their first nine games and were genuine title contenders throughout before losing to the Crusaders. Luck of the Draw: The Stormers will like the draw they have been given. They start with three home games and a bye in the opening four rounds, which given their usual terrific home form should help rekindle the momentum from last year.

What’s New: The Stormers have recruited plenty of speed out wide in Bulls utility back Gerhard van den Heever and Joe Pietersen from Bayonne. Former Sharks prop Deon Carstens and former Bulls first-five Burton Francis are excellent additions to the squad. The Stormers are now serious title contenders in 2012. Who’s Through: Players to go include Conrad Jantjes, Enrico Januarie, Jaque Fourie, Francois Louw, Adriaan Fondse and CJ Ven der Linde. Also missing is well respected assistant coach Rassie Erasmus, who has moved to England.

FEARLESS LEADER: Stormers captain Schalk Burger is a contender to lift the Super Rugby trophy.

SHARKS

www.sharksrugby.co.za

Last Year: It all started so well. The Sharks were the only unbeaten team after four rounds and top of the table until they dropped their next three games. They never quite regained that early momentum to finish in sixth place. Luck of the Draw: Usually the Bulls away first game would bring a sense of dread. Not this year, as the impressive Sharks will look to rip into the new look Bulls. The Sharks three-match Australasian tour is very early which means a solid home run to finish the campaign.

26

www.superrugby.co.nz

What’s New: Some new and some old faces have been drafted to bolster the Sharks’ squad. French star Frederic Michalak rejoins after a season in 2008 and will probably play halfback with Pat Lambie at first-five. Returning lock Steven Sykes, Marius Joubert and Riaan Viljoen are good signings. Who’s Through: Springbok legend John Smit has gone to Saracens, allowing the physically powerful Bismarck du Plessis to take over as hooker. Most fans would say about time too. Other notable players to move on are Riaan Swanepoel, Stefan Terblanche, Johann Muller and Gerhard Mostert, who have gone to European clubs.


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BULLS Last Year: To finish seventh was a poor result for the Super Rugby champions of 2007, 2009 and 2010. But with the changes to the game’s rules and many key players at the end of the road, it was not too surprising. A worse result may follow this season.

www.bluebull.co.za

Luck of the Draw: The opening round against the Sharks at Loftus is an important step for the new Bulls team to overcome, and round five against the Reds looms as another significant match. Three of the last four games are at home. What’s New: A new influx of players to replace so many legends may actually see a change of tactics and style played by the traditionally tough old Bulls. Lock Wilhelm Steenkamp returns home from the Cheetahs, while South African Under 20 first-five Lionel Cronje, Stormers pair Johann Sadie and JJ Engelbrecht, and Sharks’ loose forward Daniel Adongo are all top quality. Who’s Through: Some of the biggest names in South African rugby have moved on together, leaving a massive hole. Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Gurthro Steenkamp, Gary Botha, Fourie du Preez and Jaco van der Westhuyzen will take some replacing.

CHEETAH S Last Year: Their final place of 11th is about par for the Cheetahs but there were signs of renewed ability and vigour, especially during the four match unbeaten sequence from rounds 11 to to 14, which included a memorable win over the Crusaders. Luck of the Draw: The Cheetahs have a tough start with just one home game against the Bulls in the opening six rounds. The early away games are against the Lions, Brumbies, Rebels, Crusaders and Hurricanes before a four game stretch at home.

L IONS Last Year: Only the hapless Rebels finished worse than the Lions but despite their 14th placing there were encouraging signs of improvement. Four of the losses were within five points and could so easily have gone the Lions way. Luck of the Draw: The Lions have plenty of early rounds at home to try and get some points on the board and give their long suffering fans something to cheer about. Under coach John Mitchell things are definitely improving and confidence is high after winning the Currie Cup for the first time in

BULLS STAR: Wynand Olivier is a world class midfielder.

What’s New: Johan Goosen has come through the Cheetahs ranks and made his name with some standout performances in the Currie Cup. Talented first-five Marnitz Boshoff, Jacques Coetzee, Andries Ferreira and Willie Le Roux are other newcomers. Who’s Through: Skipper Badenhorst has retired due to a career-ending injury, highly regarded halfback Sarel Pretorius has moved to the Waratahs and Riaan Viljoen to the Sharks.

www.fscheetahs.co.za

Others to leave include Nass Olivier, Wilhelm Steekamp, Louis Strydom and Frans Viljoen. 12 years. With the Southern Kings confirmed to take one franchise place next year, the Lions will not want to be replaced after such improvement. What’s New: Guy and Ross Cronje, 22-year-old twins, join from the Sharks and young Western province lock Stephan Greeff is another good asset. Australian Under-20 scrumhalf Eddie Bredenhann and former Cheetahs and Waratahs lock Hendrik Roodt will be worth watching.

www.lionsrugby.co.za

Who’s Through: Clever halfback Jano Vermaak has gone to the Bulls, and well seasoned performers Burton Francis, Rory Kockott, André Pretorius and Johan Snyman have all moved out of Johannesburg. www.superrugby.co.nz

29


ACC

Are you up for it? On the eve of the 2012 club rugby season have you put in the hard yards over the summer to hit the ground running? One key area is physical conditioning. Have you got what it takes to go the distance? Are you up for the challenge? The training cycle is designed so that you are fully fit and ready for your first game. Progressively build up your training load with a focus on activities that relate to your position and contribution you make on the field. Position-specific training is the key! Typically, conditioning programmes are made up of: ■ resistance training, to build strength and power ■ interval training, to build aerobic capacity and speed ■ stretching, to improve flexibility ■ prolonged activity, to build aerobic endurance ■ balancing exercises, to enhance proprioception (body awareness) At RugbySmart, register to access all the information you need to open your mind and improve your game! Gain free tailored training plans to help you and your team achieve the most out of the rugby season.

Don’t waste any time, check out: www.rugbysmart.co.nz

“Faster, fitter, stronger”!

30

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A word from the wise.

‘‘You’re putting your family at risk, your friends at risk, everyone you know at risk.’’ Dan, kebab muncher, 2.15am

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Super Rugby 2012