Super Rugby 2011: Team-by-team Guide

New season, new format, Super Rugby returns with now fifteen sides gunning for the title. Here is all you need to know about each one of them:

Auckland BluesAuckland Blues rugby team logo.png

Coach: Pat Lam

Ground: Eden Park

Players In:
Daniel Braid, Luke Braid, Ash Dixon, Matthew Luamanu, Brad Mika, Liaki Moli, Toby Morland, Lachie Munro, Jared Payne, Winston Stanley, Sherwin Stowers.

Players Out:
Paul Williams, Anthony Tuitavake, George Pisi, Rudi Wulf, Viliame Ma’afu.

Strengths:
The immediate positive that appears when examining the Blues squad is the amount of pace they have in the backs, with the likes of Joe Rokocoko, Rene Ranger and Isaia Toeava to name just a few All Blacks. There are options at 10, where the underrated Stephen Brett and ex-Sale pivot Luke McAlister will battle it out to partner improving scrum-half Alby Mathewson.

Add to this some world class forwards in Jerome Kaino, Tony Woodcock and captain Kevin Mealamu, along with the return of Daniel Braid following a very successful stint in Australia with the Queensland Reds, and the Blues are not exactly short of talent.

Weaknesses:
The main doubt hanging over this side is their temperament in the big games. Sure there is a lot of potential, and pace, but can the Blues pull off the big away wins in South Africa? There apparent lack of physicality is certainly a concern.

One to watch:
Rene Ranger produced a pretty solid showing in last year’s Super 14, and will look to kick on as all roads towards the World Cup this Autumn. Superb gas and dancing feet, expect him to find his way to the try line many times this season.

Last Season: 7th

Prediction:
Hard to say, it all depends on how consistent the Blues perform in the opening rounds. A win over the Crusaders in Round One would certainly give them a huge boost, and as for the season, a finish in the top half of the table is more than possible. 7th


ACT BrumbiesBrumbies Rugby logo.svg

Coach: Andy Friend

Ground: Canberra Stadium

Players In:
Julian Salvi, Henry Speight

Players Out:
George Smith, Justin Harrison, Guy Shepherdson, Julian Huxley, Stirling Mortlock

Strengths:
The potent centre partnership of Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper has flourished over recent months, and the Brumbies are blessed by having these two running the show in midfield. In the back row the two massive lumps of Rocky Elsom and Stephen Hoiles will cause some pain, and the Brumbies have got some great scrummaging options in Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore and Salesi Ma’afu.

Weaknesses:
On first look they look very light in the back three, and there is a lack of real quality at half-back. The battle for the 10 jersey between Christian Lealiifano and Matt Toomua will be intriguing, as neither appear solid choices. They have also lost a lot of quality players, the names of Mortlock, Shepherdson and Smith having made up the core of the side in recent seasons.

One to watch:
Adam Ashley-Cooper for me was the best 13 in the world during last year. His versatility has now been converted into true quality in one position, though given the Brumbies shortcomings in certain areas he may well pop up at full back or on the wing. A class act.

Last Season: 6th

Prediction:
The loss of certain players could prove too damaging for the former Australian rugby powerhouse. 10th


Vodacom Bulls BullsRugbyClubLogo.png

Coach: Frans Ludeke

Ground: Loftus Versfeld

Players In:
Bjorn Basson, Juandre Kruger

Players Out:
Bandise Maku, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Pedrie Wannenburg, Heini Adams, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, John Mametsa

Strengths:
Where else but the pack? The most dominant set of forwards in club rugby now for a few years, the Bulls possess impeccable operating systems in the lineout and the scrum. Just look at the second row options; Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Flip Van Der Merwe, Danie Roussouw and Juandre Kruger. Unreal. Add to this Morne Steyn’s excellent boot, a touch of pace from Francois Hougaard and Gerhard Van Der Heever, and you see why the men from Pretoria are going for their third successive Super Rugby title.

Weaknesses:
If someone finds one, let me know. Only a plague of injuries will stop a serious defence.

One to watch:
After being absent during the Autumn Internationals, Fourie Du Preez returns to action in what he has stated will be his final season the Bulls. With a point to prove regarding his status as the world’s best scrum-half, his return to the game will be interesting to analyse.

Last Season: Champions

Prediction:
Certainly in the final, but can they really make it three in a row? Possible champions.


Central CheetahsLogo Cheetahs Rugby.svg

Coach: Naka Drotske

Ground: Free State Stadium

Players In:
Skipper Badenhorst, Martin Muller, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Morgan Newman, Andries Strauss, Ryno Benjamin, Phillip Burger.

Players Out:
Lionel Mapoe, Meyer Bosman, Bjorn Basson, Richardt Strauss, Wian du Preez, David de Villiers, Barend Pieterse.

Strengths:
Not as flush with talent as the other South Africa franchises, the Cheetahs still have two great back row forwards in captain Juan Smith and Heinrich Brussouw. Out wide, Jonge Nokwe impressed on the wing last season, and the additions of Morgan Newman and Andries Strauss add some steel to the midfield.

Weaknesses:
The Cheetahs appear painfully inexperienced in certain positions. They have for so long been a force in the Currie Cup, but this is a big step up. Losing Meyer Bosman and Bjorn Basson has not helped their cause either, and it’s hard to see this season going any better than the last for the men from Bloemfontein.

One to watch:
Coonie Oosthuizen made quite a name for himself last season, scoring an impressive five tries in the competition. Given that he is a prop who weighs in at an eye-watering 19 and a half stone, you cannot help but applaud him. Will he get 6 this year? Worth a bet.

Last Season: 10th

Prediction:
The only title the Cheetahs will be in contention for is unfortunately the Wooden Spoon. 14th


Waikato ChiefsWaikatoChiefsLogo.png

Coach: Ian Foster

Ground: Waikato Stadium

Players In:
Scott Waldrom, Tana Umaga, Isaac Ross, Hayden Triggs

Players Out:
Callum Bruce, Sione Lauaki, Jarrod Hoeata

Strengths:
A very classy outfit, the Chiefs have plenty of talent right across the park, from in the front row with the likes of Aled de Malmanche and Ben May, all the way to superstar captain and loved-by-all full back Mils Muliaina. They have added some quality to the second row with the athletic Issac Ross and physical Hayden Triggs nicely complimenting each other. And then there’s the speedsters; Leila Masaga, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Muliaina, and Tim Nanai-Williams are all set to cause carnage in attack.

Weaknesses:
Losing Sione Lauaki is a shame as the loose-forward is a great talent to watch, but they have his absence covered with the recruitment of Scott Waldrom, brother of Leicester’s Thomas “The Tank”. Stephen Donald will hope he doesn’t have any more horror shows after the Hong Kong disaster. However overall there are not too many chinks in the armour, perhaps minus the front row.

One to watch:
The Ryan Giggs of New Zealand rugby, Tana Umaga returns to the premier Southern Hemisphere club competition at the ripe old age of 37. A true legend, that dodgy Brian O’Driscoll spear tackle incident aside, Umaga’s ability to play on at this level so late into his career is very admirable. It will be interesting to see how his body holds up.

Last Season: 11th

Prediction:
Their last season finish seems bizarre given the amount of talent in the ranks. This time round the play offs might be a step too far, but they won’t be far off. 9th


Canterbury CrusadersCanterbury crusaders.jpg

Coach: Todd Blackadder

Ground: AMI Stadium

Players In:
Sonny Bill Williams, Israel Dagg, Mat Berquist

Players Out:
Ti’i Paulo, Colin Slade

Strengths:
Some pretty strong signings wouldn’t you say? The only side other than the Bulls that look so complete, the Crusaders have class everywhere. McCaw, Carter, Read, Thorn, Sam Whitelock, the Franks brothers, it’s neverending.

Weaknesses:
They look to have lost Colin Slade just as he was emerging as an excellent All Black prospect, the same being said for Ti’i Paulo, but with a side like the Crusaders there are always replacements.

One to watch:
The fighter, Sonny Bill Williams. Having made quite the impact on international rugby during the autumn, SBW is set for his first taste of Super Rugby, and there’s little doubt that he will have as big an impact as he did for the All Blacks on their tour of the Northern Hemisphere. He is the complete rugby star, and the blossoming of his relationship with Dan Carter in the build-up to the World Cup will be worth tuning in for alone.

Last Season: Semi-Finals

Prediction:
Could go all the way, most likely to be face the Bulls in the final. 2nd


Western ForceWestern Force logo.svg

Coach: Richard Graham

Ground: NIB Stadium

Players In:
David Smith, Willie Ripia, Alfi Mafi

Players Out:
Scott Staniforth, Nic Henderson, Andre Pretorius

Strengths:
Blessed with some big talents in David Pocock and James O’Connor, the Force have a youthful core from which they can base their side around. In fact the back row is exceptionally strong, with Wallabies Pocock, Matt Hodgson, Ben McCalman and Richard Brown all fighting it out for a spot. There are some strong flyers as well in Nick “Big Hair” Cummins and new signing David Smith.

Weaknesses:
Immediately, half back and centres. Willie Ripia has a proven record at this level but he is solid rather than spectacular, whilst in the centres the lack of options is frightening, hence the possible switch of O’Connor to either inside or outside centre. Doing this for me though takes away some of his attacking threat, and as the Force’s best player, they need to be able to utilise him as well as possible.

One to watch:
If David Pocock and James O’Connor embody the Force’s youthful ambition, then Nathan Sharpe is the heartbeat. The captain has been there from the very beginning, and his consistently strong performance at both Super Rugby and test level have earned him a reputation as one of the best lock forwards in World rugby.

Last Season: 13th

Prediction:
The addition of the Rebels puts the Force under pressure to perform, but they should improve on last season’s dismal finish. 12th


Otago Highlanders Highlanders NZ rugby union team logo.svg

Coach: Jamie Joseph

Ground: Carisbrook

Players In:
Colin Slade, Nick Crosswell, Mahonri Schwalger, Jarrad Hoeata

Players Out:
Israel Dagg , Hayden Triggs

Strengths:
Colin Slade really is an excellent signing at fly-half, and as one of the contenders for the back-up number 10 spot behind Dan Carter going into the World Cup, he will look to try and establish a solid partnership with All Black scrum half Jimmy Cowan during this season with the Highlanders. A consummate footballer, capable of playing wing and full-back, the Highlanders have done very well to secure his signature. Elsewhere, Adam Thomson will be expected to lead the forwards on once again, and in the backs there is plenty of raw talent in James Paterson and Kenny Lynn.

Weaknesses:
There may be plenty of talent, but there sure aren’t a lot of high class players in the front five or behind the scrum. Jamie Mackintosh captains the side from loosehead prop, and securing a strong platform will be so crucial to any success the Highlanders have this season.

One to watch:
Robbie Robinson produced some memorable displays last season at fly-half, as the New Zealand Under 20s star made his debut in Super Rugby. With enough pace to play also at full-back, the young Kiwi could well start here for the Highlanders this season, and will need to be at his best to ensure the men from Dunedin do not endure another painful championship.

Last Season: 12th

Prediction:
Hard to see a great improvement on last season’s efforts, it could be another tough season for the Highlanders and new coach Jamie Joseph. 13th


Wellington HurricanesWellington Hurricanes logo.png

Coach: Mark Hammett

Ground: Westpac Stadium

Players In:
Chris Eaton, Charlie Ngatai, Julian Savea.

Players Out:
Scott Waldrom, Willie Ripia, Michael Paterson, Nick Crosswell, Jason Kawau, Tamati Ellison and David Smith.

Strengths:
Excellent options in the backs with All Blacks Hosea Gear, Ma’a Nonu Conrad Smith, and Cory Jane all enjoying successful autumn campaigns with the national side, the Hurricanes do look menacing as always. Aaron Cruden made the step up last year following success in the Junior World Cup with the All Black side, and his development is seen as crucial for the future of New Zealand rugby. Elsewhere, Neemia Tialata and Andrew Hore bring some great quality to the front row, and captain Rodney So’oialo will be keen to put his name back in the hat for All Black selection with some consistent performances.

Weaknesses:
Piri Weepu’s injury does leave the Canes looking slight at number 10, and as he is also their first choice goal kicker, the pressure has definitely gone up a notch on Aaron Cruden’s shoulders. There is so much talent behind the scrum, but what if it can’t be used to full effect? Also losing Michael Paterson is a blow, as the lock had a truly excellent season last year.

One to watch:
After a big Autumn, Hosea Gear firmly put his name on the map with some strong performances against the Home Nations, after having scored one of the tries of the year a few months before for the New Zealand Maori when England toured down under. Having seemingly taken the number 11 shirt away from rivals Sitiveni Sivivatu and Joe Rokocoko, Gear will do everything in his power to stay in pole position for the left wing slot with some big performances during this year’s championship.

Last Season: 8th

Prediction:
Some really impressive names in the backs, if the forwards can do the hard work upfront and create a solid platform, the Hurricanes could be a very dangerous outfit. 8th


The LionsLions rugby logo 2007.png

Coach: John Mitchell

Ground: Ellis Park

Players In:
Butch James, Lionel Mapoe, Patric Cilliers, Rory Kockott, Andre Pretorius, Michael Rhodes, Bandise Maku, James Kamana, Michael Bondesio

Players Out:
Heinke van der Merwe, Todd Clever

Strengths:
The cheque book has been well and truly opened in Johannesburg and the Lions have made some great signings as their owners looks to start the beginning of a new era for the province. The signings of Butch James, Rory Kockott and Bandise Maku are all big statements of intent of the direction the Lions are heading in. Last season they played some brilliant attacking rugby, it was just their defence was abysmal. They should be much approved this time out.

Weaknesses:
Whilst they have recruited astutely, the Lions still appear slightly short in certain areas. Maku outside, the front row lacks any serious quality following the departure of Heinke van der Merwe, and losing Todd Clever is a big blow not only because he was a fan favourite but also a great leader out on the pitch.

One to watch:
Wikus van Heerden made quite an impact during his time at Saracens last season, and now the South African forward has returned home, Lions fans should expect more inspirational performances. A great ball-carrier in the loose, van Heerden is a part of a rich crop of South African back row forwards, and his combination with Cobus Grobbelaar and new man Michael Rhodes will be central to the Lions progression.

Last Season: 14th

Prediction:
The improvement will be obvious, but Rome was not built in a day. Better than last year’s wooden spoon though. 11th


Melbourne Rebels

Coach: Rod Macqueen

Ground: AAMI Park

Players In:
Whole squad.

Players Out:
None.

Strengths:
Judging how a new side will perform is incredibly difficult, but examining the array of talent assembled in Melbourne, the Rebels certainly have enough to compete. Set to be led more than capably by Stirling Mortlock, there is a nice blend of experience (Greg Somerville, Mark Gerrard, Adam Freier) mixed in with exciting young stars (Richard Kingi, Danny Cipriani, Cooper Vuna). It really is quite exciting seeing the birth of a new side, especially with such a varied squad in terms of nationality. Can they gel well enough to offer a significant threat? We will soon find out.

Weaknesses:
As mentioned above, it’s hard to assess just how well the Rebels will perform as a team. They appear slightly lightweight in the second row, and in fact all over there is a big question about whether they have the depth of quality to last a long five month campaign. If injuries strike in big positions, they could really struggle.

One to watch:
England’s forgotten son Danny Cipriani has travelled to Melbourne in order to kick start his stuttering career, and what better way to do it with a new side, in a competition that suits his style of play better than any other in the world? There is pressure on his shoulders as the Rebels first-choice fly half, but the reality is his two year stint down under could prove the making of him as a player. He is yet to rule himself out of travelling to the World Cup with England, and although on the other side of the world, if he plays well enough it will be impossible for Martin Johnson to ignore him forever.

Last Season:

Prediction:
It may seem harsh, but given how the weaker sides from last year’s Super 14 have recruited, bottom spot seems a strong possibility for the Rebels. 15th


Queensland RedsQLD reds logo.svg

Coach: Ewen McKenzie

Ground: Suncorp Stadium

Players In:
Adam Wallace-Harrison, Guy Shepherdson, Michael Harris

Players Out:
Daniel Braid, Laurie Weeks, Adam Byrnes, Morgan Turinui

Strengths:
What a year the Reds had last year. As a fan, it was incredibly refreshing after years of mediocrity to see them come out and perform the way they did week in, week out. Packed with flair and raw gas, the Reds picked up huge wins against the Crusaders and Bulls, an unthinkable achievement in previous seasons. Now, after missing the play-offs, they must build. Options are plentiful in the backs with Digby Ioane and Peter Hynes returning from injury lay-offs, and upfront the addition of Guy Shepherdson more than compensates losing Laurie Weeks to the Rebels. Expect Will Genia and Quade Cooper to run the show brilliantly once again.

Weaknesses:
Losing Daniel Braid back to New Zealand is a big blow, as his combination with Scott Higginbotham and Leroy Houston was key to the Reds success last year. Jake Schatz, the young openside replacement, certainly has big boots to fill. The other potential problem is the dreaded second season syndrome, with the opposition more aware of just how great a threat the Reds can pose this time around.

One to watch:
Gas man Rod Davies made quite the impression last year on the wing. Fast enough to be a sprinter, Davies is part of a back division stacked with flyers such as Luke Morahan and Will Chambers, and faces stiff competition for one of the wing spots. All he needs though is half a yard, and you won’t catch him.

Last Season: 5th

Prediction:
As much as I would love the Reds to go one better this year, they may just fall short once again. 5th


The SharksSharksRugbyClubLogo.png

Coach: John Plumtree

Ground: ABSA Stadium

Players In:
Meyer Bosman, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Conrad Hoffmann

Players Out:
Rory Kockett , Patric Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Andries Strauss, Monty Dumond, Ruan Pienaar, Andy Goode

Strengths:
Spoilt for choice in the front and back rows, the Sharks have plenty of great options. Willem Alberts managed to find a very rich run of form with the Springboks during the Autumn as he kept on scoring, and there will be an epic battle between him, Jean Deysel, Jacques Botes, Ryan Kankowski and Keegan Daniel for a place. The front row of Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, John Smit, plus Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis also offer excellent options, whilst in the backs Patrick Lambie looks set for his first big Super Rugby season in the number 10 position after impressing last season.

Weaknesses:
With no Ruan Pienaar or Rory Kockett, scrum half becomes a slight concern for the men from Durban. They have also lost a bit of power through the centres with Andries Strauss moving to the Cheetahs, and Meyer Bosman will be the man in charge to fill those boots.

One to watch:
Lwazi Mvovo made his Springbok debut during the Autumn Internationals and impressed with his finishing ability and handy set of wheels, scoring his first try for South Africa in the victory over England at Twickenham. In contention with fellow Springbok wings JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane, Mvovo will have to work hard in training to earn one of the spots on the wing, but comes into this season in good form and look to push on this season.

Last Season: 9th

Prediction:
Last season’s finish comes as a bit of a surprise given how well the Sharks performed at times. They have a favourable opening set of fixtures, and with John Smit possibly set to play his last Super tournament, the Sharks will want him to go out with a bang. 6th


DHL StormersLogo Stormers Rugby.svg

Coach: Allister Coetzee

Ground: Newlands

Players In:
Jean de Villiers, CJ Van Der Linde

Players Out:
Joe Pietersen, Sireli Naqelevuki, Willem de Waal

Strengths:
Overall the quality of their squad has not altered at all. Losing Joe Pietersen is a shame as for me he was one of the breakthrough stars of last year’s tournament with some immaculate goal-kicking, but his loss will not damage the Stormers significantly. The return of Jean de Villiers creates some interesting selection headaches given the good form of Juan de Jongh and Jaque Fourie in 2010. Having Conrad Jantjies back after a horrific leg injury is also a great boost.

Weaknesses:
Very few, though if Peter Grant picks up an injury then they Stormers do look short of experience at fly-half. Elsewhere not too much to be worried about.

One to watch:
Gio Aplon was simply outstanding during last year’s tournament. Whether coming off his wing or using the width of the pitch from full-back, his pace was electrifying. This guy makes Bryan Habana look slow, and his call-up to the Springboks was richly deserved. A really entertaining speedster, Aplon should be set for more success this year.

Last Season: Runners-Up

Prediction:
Beaten in last year’s final, the Stormers will be looking to go one better this time around. However the way other sides have strengthened during the off seasons, especially the Crusaders, it may prove a stretch too far for the men from Cape Town. 3rd


HSBC WaratahsWaratahs logo.svg

Coach: Chris Hickey

Ground: Sydney Football Stadium

Players In:
Ryan Cross

Players Out:
None.

Strengths:
Having impressively lost none of the side from last year, the Waratahs have looked closer and closer in recent years towards winning their first Super rugby championship. Berrick Barnes is set to pull the strings again for the ‘Tahs, whilst upfront Phil Waugh enters yet another Super rugby campaign, his eleventh in fact, and continues as captain. One of the Waratahs strongest areas is the back three. Lachie Turner and Drew Mitchell both know how to score tries in this competition, but Kurtley Beale has become the star in this team following an incredible 2010, where without doubt he emerged as the most improved player in International rugby.

Weaknesses:
Little to note here, though Dean Mumm lacks a real quality partner of note in the second row.

One to watch:
Rather than focus on one guy in particular, I’ve gone for the often forgotten men of the Waratahs’ backline, the centres Tom Carter and Rob Horne. So crucial to the ‘Tahs success last season, this two are both big runners with the ball, capable of either smashing or slicing their way through defence. Its them who make that back three of Mitchell, Turner and Beale look so good, and both are well within contention for call-ups to the Wallaby side for the World Cup if they perform well this season.

Last Season: 3rd

Prediction:
Same again for the Waratahs, their main challengers for the Australian province title being the Reds. Overall though, the Bulls and Crusaders have too much. 4th

by Ben Coles

11 thoughts on “Super Rugby 2011: Team-by-team Guide

  1. good work BC.

    what the Melbourne Rebels up to? are they not in the super 15?

    check out there team – would take on any prem / heiniken cup team:

    Julian Huxley; Luke Rooney, Stirling Mortlock (capt), Cooper Vuna, Lachlan Mitchell; James Hilgendorf, Sam Cordingley; Nic Henderson, Jed Robinson, Greg Somerville, Kevin O’Neill, Adam Byrnes, Hoani Macdonald, Michael Lipman, Gareth Delve (vice-capt).

    Replacements: Danny Cipriani, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Nick Phipps, Jarrod Saffy, Al Campbell, Heath Tessmann, Laurie Weeks

  2. What do you mean Jimmy? They are in, playing the Waratahs this weekend.

    Shame Cipriani is on the bench this week, but they’ve picked on form apparently. Rod Macqueen has put together a decent squad, with some wily old heads as well as some flair.

    Looking forward to seeing how they get on, but not sure they would be competitive with the top European club teams. Might reserve judgement until they’ve played a competitive game!

  3. Hutch- was being blond, i see above BC has included the Rebels
    on paper, the team looks pretty fierce.

    Sommerville @ tight head – as good as any around.
    Lipman / delve back row – internationals

    look at the back line !

    new team will take time to gell, but there are some real classy operators in there.

    watch out for Cooper Vuna @ centre…..

  4. Great article Ben.

    Though I bet you’re annoyed Cipriani’s been announced on the bench for the match after you called him their first choice fly half! I’ve been following (well, reading match reports not watching) their trial matches and it seems they’re still not entirely sure on whether to use Cipriani at fly half or full back. In one of the trial games Cipriani started at 10 before moving to 15 in the second half to allow Hilgendorf some time. Huxley (the full back) and Hilgendorf had great games in the following match which I think has led to Cipriani starting on the bench.

  5. Cipriani hasn’t had a great pre-season in terms of performance. I’ll reserve judgement until he’s had a few competitive games but one aspect of the recent trial match made me wonder if he’s got the right temperament to ever really make the most of his talent: When the subs went to warm up in the dead ball area, the rest of them jogged down together and he just ambled over, arriving after everyone else had already done a couple of lengths and just not seeming to be part of the team. It was only a small thing and perhaps i’ve read too much into it but it’s the kind of thing his team mates and coaches will hate. Couple that with 3 or 4 missed tackles and you start to think his heart isn’t in it. That’s compared to someone like Delve who looked like he was ready to battle for every inch on the pitch and totally focused on making a big impression. Roll on Friday night…!

  6. Spike – Sadly that’s not hugely surprising. He has a habit of standing out of tackles and relying on a covering man to help him out. So when he is faced with a lone tackle he often goes too high (obvious signs of a lack of confidence) and will rarely be successful. As for the perceived lack of team ethic, might be true. Living up the road from him and being a similar age means you hear stories that aren’t particularly endearing.

    It’s just sometimes the obvious pros outweigh the cons. He is probably one of the most creative players in world rugby and has fantastic pace, plus when on song his goal kicking is exceptional. It’s just with this you have to take some baggage. He’ll need careful handling, he may not get on with everyone in the team, and you may have to base your defensive structure on keeping Cipriani away from the main tackle areas.

    I think his personality can be managed, but it’s his lack of tackling that is a major problem. He’s not a Ryan Lamb or a Charlie Hodgson, these are two small guys who will, as a result, have defensive weaknesses but will not be found wanting in their appetite for tackling. Cipriani just doesn’t want it.

  7. Int comments re Cipriani.

    Its interesting that MJ is fostering an attitude within the ENgland camp which is based on everyone doing their job, but enjoying doing it, which is not somehting that ive seen before in england.

    MJ always talks about his players and their attitudes, ie do they have the right attitude.He said of Alex Corbisiero, hes the right sort of bloke (mentally and phsically)and is ready for international rugby.

    The same cant be said for Cips!

  8. Great preview, thanks a lot. Really looking forward to the season – after struggling through 12-6s in the ML and AP for months, it’s refreshing to wake up at half-time, flick on the rugby and see that it’s 30-all.

Comments are closed.