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New Zealand’s Rugby Week

Written by Gwyn Pratley (Hertford Highlander)

Posted in :All Blacks, Original Content, RWC 2011, Stormers, Super Rugby on 30 Jun 2011 at 01:17
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This week Down Under has seen only two sides preparing for a weekend of rugby action – The Blues and the Crusaders. Both have tough tasks away from home and against the odds to beat the in-form Reds and Stormers. History is also against the visitors with no away side winning a Super Rugby Semi-final since 2000, so it looks an uphill battle for the kiwi lads this weekend.

We have also seen the first All Black camp in operation with players invited from the other 3 Super franchises to attend. As has been outlined before the only real selection headline was the omission of Stephen Donald from the training squad with Aaron Cruden and Colin Slade likely to slug it out for the right to back up Daniel Carter during the Tri Nations and ultimately the RWC. Many armchair punters think that the All Black squad is done and dusted and there will be little in the way of a surprise inclusion or a bolter come RWC time. However there are sure to be some additional All Blacks capped during the Tri Nations. This is likely with the extended season that either the Blues or more likely the Crusaders may have. With this in mind it was with great interest that we saw Highlander’s favourite Jarrod Hoeata rolled out in front of the media to talk about his chances of becoming a debut All Black in 2011. We were lead to believe that due to his versatility at blindside flanker as well a lock, he could be a chance. Hoeata would have been 1000/1 to make the RWC squad at the beginning of the season, but suddenly he looks the heir apparent to Brad Thorn who is drifting off to Japan post RWC. It will be interesting to see if Thorn is put in ‘Cotton –Wool’ similar to the Springbok tactics during the 2007 Tri Nation’s.

Speaking of Japan, a little birdie told me that Ma’a Nonu had an enjoyable week there last week with his agent. I’m not sure if he enjoys authentic sushi or maybe he was being wined and dined by a certain Ricoh Black Rams Rugby Club in Tokyo. Every club including the Sharks and dare I say it my beloved Highlanders are in the race for Mr Nonu’s signature. He along with fellow team mates, Piri Weepu, Corey Jane, Aaron Cruden and Hosea Gear are all yet to decide where they will play their rugby next season. It looks like it could be a tough season looming for not only Mark Hammett but all Hurricanes supporters in 2012 if these chaps don’t put pen to paper.

We also welcomed home the Under 20 Junior World Chamionship title and hats off to the players and the huge amount of backroom staff that made it a successful defensive of the title. The names and specialist coaching staff behind this team is incredible and really illustrates how seriously this side is to the NZRU and New Zealand rugby in general.

My final word must be a quick – ‘Good Luck’ to the Crusaders in Cape Town. As most will be aware this is Week 20 of the Super Rugby Season and the Saders have been on the road for the duration of that time. Slowly they have accumulated points and along with it respect from much of the on looking rugby watching world. They may not have a home but the vibes coming out of Cape Town this week make it seem that they will not be short of supporters on Saturday at Newlands. The All Blacks have always been well supported in Cape Town and visiting New Zealand teams have enjoyed that same luxury. Many of the Newlands faithful have encouraged everyone in the cauldron to get in behind the home side. However come Saturday don’t be surprised to see the odd Cantab’ chest puffed out when the going gets tough spurred on by their New Zealand Cape Town fan base. A fan base that has been around the Cape for not just this match but for a very long time.


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