Saturday, April 19, 2014

Super 15 Rugby Round 10 Review - The Crusaders Are Back!

Are the Crusaders back?

Super 15 Rugby Round 10 gave us the usual surprises like the Rebels beating the Force, while the Crusaders showed us that they are back, while also showing us that the Chiefs are beatable, but other than that, most results went according to plan.

Most tipsters should be used to the odd upset result and wins for the Rebels and Crusaders over their higher placed Force and Chiefs respectively reinforced this.  Less than twenty percent of SuperBru tipsters picked either one of these results.

The Crusaders are back as a force in Super Rugby while the Chiefs appear to have hit a speed bump.  Both of these teams are usually evenly matched, so although it was an upset, this result is hardly a surprise.  The Chiefs and Crusaders should make the finals.  The Chiefs still lead the New Zealand conference, but now have the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Highlanders breathing down their neck.

The Force are only used to winning when they are the underdogs and so this week they struggled against the Rebels.  It just shows you how tough this competition is!  You can't any result for granted, not even against the weakest team in your conference.

The Hurricanes, Waratahs and Sharks all recorded wins, while the Stormers win over the Lions was probably bigger than most predicted.  This result split tipsters in SuperBru almost fifty fifty.

In the Super Rugby Tips conference, Olec still holds the lead while Rocky is now second ahead of Gecko.  Omega won the yellow cap as the most improved manager.

Most managers picked three or four victories with the Stormers win over the Lions the likely hurdle for some.

How did you go in Super Rugby Round 10?  Are the Crusaders back?

Did you miss Super 15 Rugby Round 10?  Watch video highlights here!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Super 15 Rugby Round 10 Video Highlights

Super Rugby Round 10 video highlights Hurricanes vs Blues

Super Rugby Round 10 video highlights Rebels vs Force

Super Rugby Round 10 video highlights Chiefs vs Crusaders

Super Rugby Round 10 video highlights Waratahs vs Bulls

Super Rugby Round 10 video highlights Sharks vs Cheetahs

Super Rugby Round 10 video highlights Stormers vs Lions

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Super 15 Rugby Round 10 Preview Team Guide 2014

Super Rugby Round 9 was tricky because of the fifty fifty nature of some results, rather than any outrageous upsets, the away teams winning three out of six games, will Super Rugby Round 9 be any easier?  Super Rugby Round 10 features two New Zealand derbies, two South African derbies, one Australian derby and the Waratahs host the Bulls. This is something to enjoy while you are eating your Easter eggs.  Given how there is usually one to two upsets each round it is going to be another difficult round, some these matches won’t be as easy as most people think, with local derbies often tripping people up. 

Managers playing need to be weary.  The next two rounds of Super Rugby feature three teams having the bye, so this week players from the Highlanders, Brumbies and Reds have the bye, while next week the Crusaders, Lions and Rebels have the bye.  This means that some teams will already have had both of their byes.  With so many teams having byes, it is worth looking long term and selecting players you can get several weeks of games out of.

It is also important to be careful of players who are injured, suspended or being rotated and check the team lists.  Popular players like Israel Folau have caught managers out, especially after his injury and compulsory stand down by the Australian Rugby Union, but could still play making them tough purchases to make in .  Not all teams have been named yet, but some teams are making plenty of changes as they rotate their team. Plenty depends on how many trades you have up your sleeve.

For further analysis including winning margin analysis and the upset radar go to

For Super Rugby Round 10 Team Lists go to

Hurricanes vs Blues
Super Rugby Round 10 starts in Wellington where the Hurricanes host the Blues at a wet Westpac Stadium.  The bad weather sweeping New Zealand will keep this game close.  Both teams are sitting at the bottom of the New Zealand conference and so a win on Friday night will not only earn the winning team a great advantage, but will also leave the losing team at the bottom of the New Zealand conference. 

Both teams had a bye last week, but have contrasting team selections. 

The Blues have made several changes, with the bye allowing time for some of their players to recover from injury.  They welcome back some experienced players including Chris Noakes, Keven Mealamu, Francis Saili and Tom Donnelly.  Luke Braid starts in a rejigged loose forward trio, while Lolagi Visinia starts on the wing. 

The Hurricanes have lost Ben Franks to injury and so Reggie Goodes will have his work cut out against the All Blacks laden Blues forward pack.

This game shapes as a close match between these two teams between these teams who both love to spin the ball wide.  It will be interesting to see how conditions shape things.  Both of these teams have scored 193 points this season.

The Hurricanes should be too strong at home, especially given the Blues terrible away record in local derbies recently. 

My pick - Hurricanes

Players to buy - The Hurricanes have some high scoring players for those managers.  Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles, Jeremy Thrush and Julian Savea are quality points scoring players.  Alapati Leiua starts in the midfield, while Victor Vito is at Number Eight, both of these players could be worth a shot.

Blues – The Blues loose forwards are good points scoring players.  It will be interesting to see how the All Blacks midfield of Ma’a Nonu and Francis Saili go in the Blues midfield, while Charles Piutau and Keven Mealamu are usually good points producers.

Rebels vs Force
This Australian derby has an interesting look to it.  The Rebels are placed bottom of the Australian conference and now host the Force who were written off before the season began and lost their first two games, but are now on a five match winning streak. 

The Force thumped the Rebels in Round 4 by 32-7 and that was the catalyst for this five game winning streak, but can they win away from home?   
The Force have a remarkably strong team culture and this should be enough to get them up against the Rebels.  Their winning streak has included away wins over the Highlanders and Reds.

The Rebels pushed the Chiefs last week and can’t be written off at home, but the Force should win, but it will be close.

My pick – Force
Players to watch:  These teams haven’t been named yet, but the Rebels have their stars like Scott Higginbotham, Jason Woodward and Luke Jones.
For the Force, the Honey Badger Nick Cummins has been playing well, while Nathan Charles and Ben McCalman have been good point producers.

Chiefs vs Crusaders
This is the clash between the two traditional heavyweights of New Zealand rugby.  Both of these teams won in Super Rugby Round 9, although these results were contrasting with the Chiefs winning an ugly battle over the Rebels, while the Crusaders put the Cheetahs to the sword.

It will be difficult for the Crusaders to win after travelling back from South Africa and given that they are playing away from home.  The Crusaders have looked good in the last two weeks, but their two wins were against the Lions and Cheetahs and so they will notice an intensity in defence this week.
Gareth Anscombe will have benefitted from his run at first five eighth last week after replacing Aaron Cruden.  It will be interesting to see if the Crusaders can bring their attacking flair from the last two weeks, against the Chiefs this week. 

The Chiefs have developed a knack of winning the close games and that included the last two times they beat the Crusaders in their opening game this season and in the semi-final in Super Rugby 2013.

My pick: Chiefs
Players to watch – Neither team has been named so check the team lists before making any selections in – For the Chiefs watch for Gareth Anscombe, Liam Messam and the Chiefs outside backs like Tim Nanai Williams.
The Crusaders have the bye next week, so don’t buy any Crusaders.  Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Ryan Crotty, Colin Slade and Nemani Nadolo scored well last week, but that was against the Cheetahs.

Waratahs vs Bulls
The Waratahs will be hurting after losing to the Force as they return home to face the Bulls.  The Waratahs will welcome back Israel Folau for this match (assuming the ARU allow it). 
The Bulls were humbled by the Highlanders in Dunedin last week, but showed that they can physically dominate their opponents despite not being able to beat them on the scoreboard. 
The Waratahs will do it tough in this match against the big Bulls pack with Wycliff Palu still out injured along with Peter Betham and Alofa Alofa. 
The Bulls will rely heavily on their pack and the kicking of Jacques-Louis Potgieter and their experienced locking duo with Victor Matfield playing a lot for a guy who wasn’t going to play at all on tour! 
My pick – Waratahs
Players to watch in  – For the Waratahs Israel Folau is back (touch wood), while assuming Kurtley Beale kicks goals, he is also a great option. Tatafu Polota-Nau is a reliable player to watch. 
The Bulls players Victor Matfield and Jacques-Louis Potgieter are two of the better point scorers for the Bulls.
Sharks vs Cheetahs
The Sharks have another home game which they must win if they are to build enough of a buffer before hitting the road.  The Cheetahs haven’t had any problems scoring points, but have struggled in defence.  The Sharks are hot favourites to win this match, especially since Johan Goosen isn’t playing for the Cheetahs, although Heinrich Brussouw is back for the Cheetahs. 

The Sharks should dominate up front with Bismarck du Plessis leading the forward pack, although it will be interesting to see who wears the Number 10 jersey in Patrick Lambie’s absence.  The Cheetahs have terrible defence and this means that there could be plenty of tries in this one, despite what history between these two teams suggests.
My pick: Sharks
Players to watch – – The Sharks haven’t been named but look for Bismarck du Plessis, Lwazi Mvovo, Franc Steyn, Jean Deysel and Marcell Coetzee.  Lock Stephan Lewies could be a cheap option if he is named to start. 
For the Cheetahs watch for Jean Cook and Boom Prinsloo who are bargain priced loose forwards while Adriaan Strauss and Willie Le Roux are good value.  Heinrich Brussouw returns from injury.

Stormers vs Lions
Who would have thought that the Lions would be sitting above the Stormers in Super Rugby 2014?  These two teams have struggled to pick up wins on the road in 2014, but have still been gallant in defeat.  The Lions gave the Sharks a minor fright last week before going down, while the Stormers lost only their second home game of the season to the Waratahs. 

The Lions have hit a lean trot after a promising start in 2014 and will rely heavily on the boot of Marnitz Boshoff, while the big Stormers team has gone for two kickers with Peter Grant starting at fullback. 
We are going for the Stormers to win thanks to their home ground.  It should be a relatively close and low scoring game.
It is a funny Super Rugby draw when the Stormers are only playing their third home game while the Sharks have played every game in South Africa including five home games.

My pick- Stormers

Players to watch: Neither team usually sets the world on fire, but the Stormers have some bargains. Damian de Allende, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr are bargains for the Stormers while Deon Fourie and Duane Vermeulen are consistent scorers. 
Marnitz Boshoff is the man for the Lions, while their loose forwards like Warren Whiteley and Jaco Kriel are usually good performers, but check that they are playing as the Lions haven’t been named yet.

Who are you picking to win Super 15 Rugby Round 10 matches? 

Super 15 Rugby Round 10 Team Lists Named

Friday, April 18
Hurricanes v Blues
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 John Schwalger, 19 Blade Thomson, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Tim Bateman, 23 Matt Proctor
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 George Moala, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Lolagi Visinia, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Luke Braid (c), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Liaki Moli, 20 Brendon O'Connor, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Benji Marshall, 23 Frank Halai

Rebels v Force
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward 14 Male Sau, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau,18 Paul Alo-Emilie,19 Hugh Pyle,20 Sean McMahon,21 Luke Burgess,22 Tom Kingston,23 Angus Roberts
Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Phoenix Battye, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Chris Tuatara-Morrison.

Saturday, April 19
Chiefs v Crusaders
Waikato Stadium
Chiefs: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam (c), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Jordan Payne.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Tom Taylor, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett. 
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Adam Whitelock

Waratahs v Bulls
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgeiter, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sepoke Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Silatolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Pat McCutcheon, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Matt Carraro.
Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Grant Hattingh , 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield , 4 Flip van der Merwe (c), 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel vd Merwe, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 William Small-Smith, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 Rudy Paige, 23 Morné Mellet.

Sharks v Cheetahs
Kings Park, Durban
Sharks 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Ryan Kankowski, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 SP Marais.
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Hennie Daniller, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Rossouw de Klerk, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Riaan Smith, 23 Raymond Rhule.

Stormers v Lions
Newlands, Cape Town
Stormers: 15 Peter Grant, 14 Damien de Allende, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Demitri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Devon Williams, 23 Jaco Taute
Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Willie Britz, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 JW Jonker

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Chiefs Play Moneyball

Defending Super Rugby champions the Chiefs are a prime example of a team learning how to win effectively despite not having the big name players.  In many ways, the Chiefs are like the 2002 Oakland Athletics Major League Baseball team portrayed in the movie Moneyball and Michael Lewis book Moneyball : The Art of Winning An Unfair Game.

For those of you who don’t know the story of the Oakland Athletics team of 2002, it was based on challenging the usual statistics into what makes a successful team, using sabermetrics analysis to build a winning baseball team with one of the lowest budgets in Major League Baseball.  It was about buying players with cheap market values in order to fill up certain statistical categories to give their team a great statistical chance of winning.

In my opinion the Chiefs have done this amazingly well in recent seasons.  They won the 2012 and 2013 Super Rugby titles without having the best team on paper.  They have a sprinkling of rockstars like Liam Messam, Aaron Cruden and Brodie Retallick who they rely heavily on, but there are plenty of other players in the Chiefs who were not wanted by other Super Rugby teams or have their limitations, but in the Chiefs setup, these players have a role to do and they provide the glue for the team.

Admittedly the coaching staff at the Chiefs are some of the best in Super Rugby with Dave Rennie leading a team which include former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith.  This definitely helps the plan, but one look at the Chiefs team leaves you thinking that the coaching staff must be miracle workers.
Lets look at some of the Chiefs squad both in 2014 and in their 2012 and 2013 championship winning teams. 

Liam Messam, Aaron Cruden and Brodie Retallick are consistent performers which isn’t a given for All Blacks in Super Rugby and these guys log some massive minutes.  Liam Messam in particular is known as an “ironman” having played the most minutes in Super Rugby 2011, 2012 and 2013.  Cruden is in a pivotal position, but consistently sparks the Chiefs backline and provides accurate goal-kicking, while Brodie Retallick is a beast in the set pieces and around the field.

There are some interesting other players in the Chiefs squad.  The Chiefs have bought some experienced players in recent seasons who help to provide leadership.  Players like Jamie Mackintosh, Tanerau Latimer, Andrew Horrell, Kane Thompson, Mils Muliaina and the recently departed Craig Clarke provided a core of experienced players.

Interestingly, Manu Samoan international Kane Thompson played lock for most of his career for Wellington, Southland and Hawkes Bay but finds himself as the starting Number Eight for the Chiefs these days.  Neither him nor Matt Levant who started at Number Eight last season would be described as big blockbuster type Number Eights, but they fit into the team pattern well.
Gareth Anscombe and Robbie Robinson were two players with X Factor but lacking a bit in defence, who both fell out of favour with their previous teams and moved to the Chiefs and all of a sudden became superstars.  It was funny seeing Robbie Robinson who couldn’t make the match-day squad for the lowly Highlanders, all of a sudden switching to the Chiefs and scoring the match-winning try in the Super Rugby 2013 final.  Anscombe ran into trouble at the Blues and has since flourished with the Chiefs at fullback.  New team, new position.

The Chiefs front row is hardly household names but with the likes of Mackintosh and Mo Schwalger, they have experience despite not having as many All Blacks as the Crusaders or Hurricanes front rows.
The Chiefs in 2014 have a hardworking forward pack, while most of the backs at the Chiefs are versatile.  Tim Nanai-Williams for example, can play wing, fullback or centre, while Tom Marshall can play anywhere outside first five eighth.  

Charlie Ngatai, Andrew Horrell and Asaeli Tikoirotuma are all from the Hurricanes franchise region, but now find themselves in a more consistent team.  Ngatai and Horrell are both midfielders who can slot in a fullback, while Tikoirotuma is one of the best finishers and defensive wingers in Super Rugby.

Can the Moneyball Chiefs team keep winning in Super Rugby 2014?

Which other current teams play Moneyball? 

All Blacks Form XV 2014

Beauden Barrett earns the All Blacks Number 10 jersey.

Super Rugby 2014 is at the halfway stage for nine of the fifteen teams involved as we move into Super Rugby Round 10.  This makes it an ideal time to cast our eye towards the All Blacks squad for the June International test series.

Here is our All Blacks Form XV based on performances in Super Rugby 2014, using statistics from fantasy rugby website -

Criteria for this team is highest average points per game in and with the exception of prop, the player must be in the top 20 total points scorers in their position.  This is to eliminate players gaining selection based on one or two good games.

All Blacks Form XV 2014
15. Ben Smith
14. Tim Nanai- Williams
13. Malakai Fekitoa
12. Ryan Crotty
11. Julian Savea
10. Beauden Barrett
9. Aaron Smith
8. Kieran Read
7. Luke Braid
6. Liam Messam
5. Brodie Retallick
4. Sam Whitelock
3. Ben Franks
2. Dane Coles
1. Tony Woodcock

It is great to see so many All Blacks in this team with most of these players already wearing the All Blacks jersey before.  Luke Braid gets the openside jersey with most other opensides sharing minutes with team mates.  Beauden Barrett wins the Number 10 jersey, while exciting players like Malakai Fekitoa and Tim Nanai-Williams gain selection ahead of All Black incumbents.

What do you think of the All Blacks Form XV squad?  Will this squad be similar to the All Blacks squad that plays England in June?

All Blacks Form XV Squad

Honourable mentions
Hookers - Liam Coltman and Rhys Marshall are the next cabs off the rank, but the gap between Dane Coles and the rest is huge.  The retirement of Andrew Hore and constant injuries to Keven Mealamu have left a gap in the New Zealand hooking stocks.

Props - The Crusaders have been rotating their All Black props like Wyatt Crockett and Owen Franks, meaning they missed selection.  Blues prop Charlie Faumuina, Highlanders prop Kane Hames and Hurricanes Jeffery Toomaga-Allen are the next best.  With props the average points were the lowest of all positions, as props tend to be substituted depending on the depth of their squad and injuries.

Locks - Whitelock and Retallick are the cream of the crop, while Jeremy Thrush and Joe Wheeler are next.  Luke Romano has had injury problems but otherwise would be considered one of the best locks in New Zealand.

Loose forwards - Steven Luatua, Nasi Manu and Shane Christie are the next best loose forwards.  There would have been other contenders like Richie McCaw, Matt Todd, Sam Cane and Jerome Kaino, but these guys haven't played enough minutes in 2014.  

Halfback - Not surprisingly Aaron Smith gets the halfback position, while Andy Ellis has also played well.

First five eighth - The New Zealand first five eighths have been playing well with Beauden Barrett a standout averaging over 300 points per game in .  Most of the New Zealand teams have a regular at first five eighth meaning that they have a chance to score decent points.  Aaron Cruden would warm the bench in this team, while Colin Slade, Lima Sopoaga, Simon Hickey and Gareth Anscombe deserve a mention.  It will be interesting to see how Dan Carter goes on his return to New Zealand rugby.

Midfield - The New Zealand midfield back stocks are relatively thin with young Highlanders sensation Malakai Fekitoa the best New Zealand centre, while Ryan Crotty grabs the Number 12 jersey.  All Blacks incumbent Conrad Smith is the next best ahead of Shaun Treeby.  Players like Francis Sailii and Maá Nonu haven't seen enough game time to feature.

Outside backs - Rebels fullback Jason Woodward is the best performed New Zealand outside back, but he isn't eligible, so Ben Smith takes the fullback jersey with Tim Nanai-Williams and Julian Savea on the wings.  Charles Piutau would come off the bench in this team.  Interestingly, incumbent All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg finished well down the pecking order but should still feature in the All Blacks this season. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Super 15 Rugby Round 9 Team of the Round

Crusaders flyer Nemani Nadolo was the Player of Super Rugby Round 9 according to statistics from fantasy rugby website
Nadolo and teammate Colin Slade benefitted from some generous Cheetahs defence to make the Super Rugby Round 9 Team of the Round.  Nadolo just edged popular Western Force player Nick Cummins for the left wing position in this team.  Both left wingers scored three tries each!  Nadolo also made four line breaks and go forwards, three tackles and caught three kicks.

The Crusaders dominated the Super Rugby Round 9 Team of the Round with Sam Whitelock, Kieran Read and Matt Todd taking their tally to five players.

While it is easy to suggest stacking your team with whoever is playing the Cheetahs, it is difficult to have enough money and trades to achieve this under the salary cap.  It could be worth going for more long term options including goal kickers who play in other positions like Kurtley Beale and Jason Woodward.  These guys may not score hattricks, but they will be consistent contributors.

The Super Rugby Round 9 Team of the Round by country.
7 New Zealand
6 Australia
2 South Africa

Who was your Super Rugby Round 9 Player of Super Rugby Round 9? 

Super Rugby Round 9 Team of the Round 
This squad is picked based entirely on fantasy points earned from the Round. The results are limited to the actual starting 15 of each side, and spots are based on the jersey number worn in the game.

James Slipper
James Slipper
REDAustralia1 - Prop - Loose2552550

Tatafu Polatu-Nau
Tatafu Polatu-Nau
WARAustralia2 - Hooker3353350

Ben Tameifuna
Ben Tameifuna
CHFNew Zealand3 - Prop -Tight1701700

Mike Fitzgerald
Mike Fitzgerald
CHFNew Zealand4 - Lock3553555

Sam Whitelock
Sam Whitelock
CRUNew Zealand5 - Lock3203200

Ed Quirk
Ed Quirk
REDAustralia6 - Loose Blindside2802805

Matt Todd
Matt Todd
CRUNew Zealand7 - Loose Openside3403400

Kieran Read
Kieran Read
CRUNew Zealand8 - Loose Number 82902900

Nic White
Nic White
BRMAustralia9 - Halfback21021013

Colin Slade
Colin Slade
CRUNew Zealand10 - Fly-half50550525

Nemani Nadolo
Nemani Nadolo
CRUNew Zealand11 - Wing Left57057015

Kurtley Beale
Kurtley Beale
WARAustralia12 - Centre Inside31531511

Johann Sadie
Johann Sadie
CHESouth Africa13 - Centre Outside2652650

Joseph Tomane
Joseph Tomane
BRMAustralia14 - Wing Right3603605

Lwazi Mvovo
Lwazi Mvovo
SHKSouth Africa15 - Fullback4504505

Republished with the permission of

Saturday, April 12, 2014

All Blacks Meet Royalty - Richie McCaw and Ben Smith Meet William and Kate

All Blacks Richie McCaw and Ben Smith met up with the Royal Tour when Will and Kate called in at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Super Rugby Round 9 Review

Super Rugby Round 9 has been and gone meaning that most teams are almost halfway through their 2014 Super Rugby season. That is scary!  Features of Super Rugby Round 9 included predictable wins for the Chiefs and Sharks, while the Crusaders and Brumbies managed to boost the number of wins by the away teams this round, the Highlanders and Force grabbed home wins which really split the tipsters.  Interestingly for those playing SuperBru, more than half of tipsters picked the winners of each game, but given the tight nature of the competition, not many picked all six results to grab a bonus point.

Here are five things to take out of Super Rugby Round 9
1)  It is difficult for the favourites like the Chiefs and Sharks to win, although a good team can win when they aren't at their best..  Neither of these teams have their first choice first five eighth.

2)  The Force are on a massive giant killing run having won five on the trot.  This result was a massive turn around from their early round defeat to the Waratahs.  The Honey Badger knows how to score tries and grab some "meat"

3)  The Crusaders are back in contention.  Despite conceding 28 points to the Cheetahs their attack functioned against the paper thin Cheetahs defence to post a half century.  The New Zealand conference just got tougher!

4)  The home advantage which saw the first seven rounds dominated by the home teams, seems to be subsiding.  For the second week in a row, three teams won on the road.  

5)  The ARU stopped Israel Folau from playing against the Force.  Did this impact on your fantasy or virtual picking?  Folau is a matchwinner and the Waratahs missed him big time.  Should the national body get the final say in who takes the field for their Super Rugby franchise?

Who are the form teams in Super Rugby 2014?


Force, Crusaders, Highlanders, Sharks, Chiefs, Brumbies.


Cheetahs, Lions, Bulls, Reds.

Olec still leads the Super Rugby Tips SuperBru conference from Gecko.  There is still plenty of time left as we are not quite halfway through Super Rugby 2014.  

Super Rugby Round 9 Results
Highlanders 27 - 20 Bulls
Reds 20 - 23 Brumbies
Chiefs 22 - 16 Rebels
Force 28 - 16 Waratahs
Cheetahs 31 - 52 Crusaders
Lions 12 - 25 Sharks

Friday, April 11, 2014

John Kirwan and Jamie Joseph - Want To Trade Nonu for Fekitoa?

John Kirwan says to Jamie Joseph "Want to trade Nonu for Fekitoa?", 6 months later.

This is in reference to Blues reject Malakai Fekitoa having an amazing season with the Highlanders in 2014.