Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Who Are The Best and Worst - Rugby and Rugby League Code Switchers?

Benji Marshall's switch from rugby league to rugby union has been heavily publicised.  But who are some other people to switch codes and how did they do?

I think people that switch codes need time to adjust to their new code need plenty of time to adjust and plenty depends on previous experience in the code they are switching to and how old the player is. 

Benji Marshall's failure in his switch may be a warning for those rugby league players thinking that they will be able to switch easily so they can play Rugby Sevens at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games like Sam Burgess. 

It is amazing how many players have made the switch between rugby and rugby league or vice versa.

Success stories
There have been some success stories both ways with Jason Robinson, Brad Thorn, Matt Rogers, Sonny Bill Williams, Daryl Halligan, Vaiaga Tuigamala, Frano Botica, Craig Innes, John Timu, John Shuster, Wendell Sailor, Henry Paul, Ricky Stuart, Matthew Ridge, Michael O'Connor, Israel Folau, Lote Tuqiri, Gavin Hill, Alan Tait, Ryan Cross, Leslie Vainkolo, Berrick Barnes, Timahna Tahu, Chris Ashton, Andrew Walker, Noa Nadruku.

Unsuccessful switches
John Kirwan who is now Benji Marshall's coach struggled when he went to rugby league.  Marc Ellis had his moments for the Warriors and even made the Kiwis as well as the All Blacks.  Marc Carter struggled in rugby league and spent plenty of time in reserve grade for the Warriors.  John Gallagher who was the All Blacks 1987 Rugby World Cup winner, but struggled in the UK Super League with Leeds.  Willie Carne was relatively average when he switched from rugby league to union.  Andy Farrell was a great rugby league player, but a relatively average rugby player. Eion Crossan almost made the All Blacks and was a great goalkicker for Southland but was terrible at rugby league.  His tackling has never been his strong point.

Other players include
Karmichael Hunt,
Peter Ryan,
Tasesa Lavea,
Craig Gower,
Craig Wing.

Who are some other players who have switched between rugby and rugby league?  How successful were they?

Blues First Five Crisis - Why Do The Blues Let Players Go?

With the Benji Marshall situation unfolding at the Blues, you have to wonder why the Blues seem to struggle to find a good first five eighth since the days of Carlos Spencer.  It is difficult to know if any of these five players would do a better job than Simon Hickey or Chris Noakes.  I hope the Blues can hold onto these two players, especially the young Hickey who has potential.  Even the best first fives often struggle to start with, but eventually get used to what is required.

1)  Gareth Anscombe - Potentially Welsh bound Gareth Anscombe fell out with the Blues and all of a sudden ended up starring in a Super Rugby championship winning team the Chiefs.  Not good enough for the Blues ay?  His form for the Chiefs in both the Number 10 and 15 jersey has been great over the last few seasons.

2)  Mike Harris - Harris was another solid goalkicking first five eighth who now finds himself in the Number 12 jersey for the Reds.  He has ended up providing the ultimate foil for Quade Cooper.  Was it because Harris was from North Harbour?

3)  Ben Botiga - Botiga is another quality former North Harbour first five eighth who has left the region.  He now plays for Harlequins.

4)  Nick Evans - The former All Blacks pivot has taken Ben Botiga under his wing at Harlequins in the UK.

5)  Benji Marshall - Marshall has gone back to rugby league, although I still think with time he would have developed into a decent rugby player.

Super 15 Rugby 2014 Form XV Team of the Competition

We are halfway through Super Rugby 2014 and now is an ideal time to see who the best players are in Super Rugby with an eye towards the June International Test Matches and The Rugby Championship.  It is also a guide to which conference is the strongest.  Selections are based on statistics from fantasy rugby website www.testrugby.com and based on average points per game and which position the player has been playing in most, rather than where he is listed in www.testrugby.com.  This does get confusing, especially in South Africa, but it is an easier way of analysing the players rather than simply by position.

Number Eights and fullbacks seem to score the highest in their positions and so there are some unlucky players who miss out like Scott Higginbotham, Phillip van der Walt, Kieran Read, Willie Le Roux and Jason Woodward.

Players are also only included in positions that they played most matches in, rather than where they are listed on fantasy website www.testrugby.com .  Robbie Coleman for example, is listed in the midfield, but has played on the wing for the Brumbies, while Kurtley Beale is listed as an outside back, but has mainly been playing in the Waratahs Number 12 jersey.

There are plenty of household names in this team including Bismarck du Plessis, Israel Folau, Beauden Barrett,Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, James Slipper, Ben McCalman, Julian Savea and Kurtley Beale.  This is good for their teams heading into the international season.

Israel Folau has the highest fantasy average out of any player.

Which conference is really the strongest in Super Rugby 2014?
Team of Super Rugby 2014 by country
Australia 4
New Zealand 7
South Africa 4

There are no New Zealanders in the front row, while there are no South Africans in the backline outside Cobus Reinach.

This squad is stacked with international players, although it is great to see some young talents like Malakai Fekitoa and Tim Nanai-Williams in this team.

What do you think of the Super Rugby 2014 Team of the Competition?  Who would you select in this team?
Super 15 Rugby 2014 Form XV
1. James Slipper (Reds)
2. Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks)
3. Frans Malherbe (Stormers)
4. Sam Whitelock (Crusaders)
5. Brodie Retallick (Chiefs)
6. Marcell Coetzee (Sharks)
7. Luke Braid (Blues)
8. Ben McCalman (Force)
9. Cobus Reinach (Sharks)
10. Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes)
11. Julian Savea (Hurricanes)
12. Kurtley Beale (Waratahs)
13. Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders)
14. Tim Nanai-Williams (Chiefs)
15. Israel Folau (Waratahs)

Republished with permission www.testrugby.com

Monday, April 21, 2014

Robbie Deans To Coach In Japan - Thoughts?

Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has reportedly signed to start managing Japanese team Panasonic Wild Knights.  The former Crusaders coach polarised Crusaders fans after coaching with the All Blacks staff before getting experience with the Wallabies.  Deans will fit right in with his usual Japanese tourist photo pose above!

What do you think of Robbie Deans going to Japan?  It is a career move as the standard won't be as intense as international rugby, but he is probably getting paid a lot of money.  It is his job and he needs money to live, so Japan could be the answer.

I thought he might return to New Zealand and coach one of the Super Rugby teams in an attempt to get back into the All Blacks.

Super 15 Rugby Round 10 Team of the Round

Super Rugby Round 10 Team of the Round features plenty of new faces with Chiefs utility back Tom Marshall the Player of Super Rugby Round 10 according to fantasy rugby website www.testrugby.com

Marshall scored 420 points from a try, three line breaks, eight go forwards and two lineouts, tackles and catches of kicks, he also secured a turnover.  HIs return to the outside backs gave him the space he flourishes in.

There are plenty of new faces in the Super Rugby Round 10 team of the round including Rebels hooker Shota Horie, Force lock Adam Coleman, Jean Deysel, while it is great to have former fantasy rugby studs like Julian Savea and Jerome Kaino back.

There are only a sprinkling of regulars in the Team of the Round with Beauden Barrett, Luke Jones and Damian de Allende the most notable.

Tom Marshall knocked other fullbacks Jason Woodward and Israel Folau out of contention, even though they performed well at the weekend.

Managers must remember that they don't get any more trades until the lock of Super Rugby Round 13.  It makes a challenging few weeks for managers with three teams having byes each week at the moment.  This means managers must plan ahead and only pick players who they can get several games out of.  Of course, team player rotations and injuries are also difficult to plan for.  There are some players in this team who will have the bye before you get more trades so it could be worth avoiding the temptation of buying them!  The Rebels, Crusaders and Lions have the bye this coming weekend.

The Super Rugby Round 10 Team of the Round by country
South Africa 6
Australia 5
New Zealand 4

Interestingly, only four New Zealand players made the Super Rugby Round 10 Team of the Round.

Who impressed you in Super Rugby Round 10?  Which player was the best in Super Rugby Round 10?

Super Rugby XV Round 10 Team of the Round - www.testrugby.com 
This squad is picked based entirely on TESTRUGBY.com 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.

Tendai Mtawarira
Tendai Mtawarira
SHKSouth Africa1 - Prop - Loose2302300

Shota Horie
Shota Horie
REBAustralia2 - Hooker3153150

Julian Redelinghuys
Julian Redelinghuys
LIOSouth Africa3 - Prop -Tight2302300

Adam Coleman
Adam Coleman
FORAustralia4 - Lock3103100

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
REBAustralia5 - Lock3503500

Jacques Potgieter
Jacques Potgieter
WARAustralia6 - Loose Blindside2902900

Jean Deysel
Jean Deysel
SHKSouth Africa7 - Loose Openside3503505

Jerome Kaino
Jerome Kaino
BLUNew Zealand8 - Loose Number 83403400

Sarel Pretorius
Sarel Pretorius
CHESouth Africa9 - Halfback1451450

Beauden Barrett
Beauden Barrett
HURNew Zealand10 - Fly-half39039014

Julian Savea
Julian Savea
HURNew Zealand11 - Wing Left3503505

Jan Serfontein
Jan Serfontein
BULSouth Africa12 - Centre Inside3503500

Marcel Brache
Marcel Brache
FORAustralia13 - Centre Outside2002000

Damian- de-Allende
Damian- de-Allende
STMSouth Africa14 - Wing Right2452455

Tom Marshall
Tom Marshall
CHFNew Zealand15 - Fullback4204205

Republished with permission from www.testrugby.com

Benji Marshall Quits Super Rugby - Good or Bad For The Game?

Benji Marshall's brief foray into Super Rugby for the Blues is over with Marshall and the Blues set to part ways, has Marshall's stint in rugby been good for the game or a waste of time?

Marshall played eight Super Rugby matches including just 212 minutes and just one start.  It was thought that Marshall would put bums on seats and provide an answer in the Number 10 jersey for the Blues, but unfortunately despite scoring a stunning try against the Lions, Marshall has been found wanting in rugby and looks set to go back to the NRL and playing rugby league again.

Rumours suggested that Benji Marshall was on nearly half a million dollars per season and so it seems that unfortunately the gamble to bring Marshall to rugby has failed.

In my opinion, Benji Marshall should have played ITM Cup rugby last season to improve on the technical aspects of the sport as he was sitting on the sidelines after falling out with his NRL club the Wests Tigers.  This would have been a smarter move which would have allowed him the opportunity to either improve or not pursue a Super Rugby contract with the Blues if he didn't enjoy it.

Rugby and rugby league are totally different sports and it must be remembered that even the great Sonny Bill Williams did take time to adjust to rugby union.

It is hard to say if Marshall would have improved at a different team under a different coach, like the Chiefs or Crusaders.

Marshall could still improve in rugby union, although his hand has been forced in some regards because if he wants to go back to the NRL he needs to get a contract before the June 30th deadline.

Has Benji Marshall been good or bad for Super Rugby?  Good.

I think despite limited opportunities in Super Rugby, Benji Marshall has shown some flashes of brilliance in rugby and in some ways I am disappointed as I think he would get better with time in the game.  He has brought plenty of league fans to rugby or at least keep a slight interest in the Super Rugby, although I think the large contract was probably too much to spend on him.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fantasy Super Rugby - The Agony!

Tom Marshall has frustrated fantasy rugby managers
As a manager of a www.testrugby.com fantasy rugby team, I have experienced plenty of agony over the last fortnight.  I was in the top 100 not very long ago, but now find myself struggling to make the top 500, how can this be?

My main problem has been juggling the trades, this has been ridiculous in Super Rugby 2014 with the number of injuries and rounds where three teams have had byes.

Usual iron men of Super Rugby like Kieran Read, Aaron Cruden and Jean de Villiers have been injured, and these guys are examples of consistent points scorers from previous competitions.

For those playing Super Rugby, you don't get any more trades until the lock for Round 13.  I can't speak for everyone, but this means some conservative long term selections are required along with plenty of crossing fingers.

I foolishly keep picking Kieran Read which hasn't been wise in 2014.  The other problems have existed with juggling the salary cap with the low number of trades left.  Last weekend I had to replace my Highlanders, Reds and Brumbies while this weekend I ditch my Crusaders, Rebels and Lions.

My problem was finding some cheap outside backs and a loose forward so I could buy Beauden Barrett from the Hurricanes.  Knowing the Rebels have a bye in Super Rugby 11, I thought this would be a chance to get rid of my two Rebels, Jason Woodward and Scott Higginbotham a week before they have the bye, and as Murphy's Law would suggest, they play well as the Rebels beat the Force.  I also got rid of Chiefs utility Tom Marshall who has been disappointing in the three previous weeks including only scoring 40 points last week.  He seemed to enjoy having more space from fullback against the Crusaders.

I replaced these guys with some South Africans, including two Sharks.  The Sharks didn't completely humiliate the Cheetahs in a try scoring spree as predicted and so Lwazi Mvovo only got me 150 points.  Isn't that frustrating!

The problem now is that I don't have many trades left, which restricts me to purchasing only players who won't have the bye for the next few weeks.  This limits selections and players.  It is also difficult to know if I can even risk buying Israel Folau since the Waratahs have the bye in Round 13.

It is now time for Super Rugby fantasy rugby managers to pick players who they can get at least enough games from to get through to the next lot of trades.

In the past you could buy some quality five eighths, loose forwards and tight forwards and get most of the season out of them, but these days teams have two byes and there seem to be so many injuries.  Guys like Cruden and Kieran Read are no longer the obvious choices.

How are you handling Super Rugby fantasy rugby?  Who has been your best buy in Super Rugby 2014?  

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 www.testrugby.com 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 www.testrugby.com .  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 www.testrugby.com 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 www.testrugby.com 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 www.testrugby.com – 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 www.testrugby.com  – 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 – www.testrugby.com – 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?