Sharks, Tahs best bet for title

February 10, 2014
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Super Rugby

Our good friend Mr Mark Keohane express his opinion on this years Super Rugby and put all his money on Sharks, Warratahs with Crusaders and Chiefs to battle it out for the trophy, I am sure ruggaworld’s resident bloggers will agree with Mark :soek:

Here is what he has to say:

The Sharks and Stormers look a class above the rest in South Africa. The Bulls are rebuilding, the Cheetahs will provide entertainment but aren’t strong enough to win the competition and the Lions will again be a misery.

It’s the same in every conference. New Zealand’s tournament challenge will come from defending champions the Chiefs and the Crusaders. The Blues will be hit and miss, the Hurricanes don’t have a tight five to be taken seriously and the Highlanders have a few wonderful individuals but as a team won’t last the pace.

In Australia, the Tahs and resurgent Reds are my pick as the front runners. I believe the Brumbies will struggle after Jake White’s departure and the Force and Rebels will be among the tournament donkeys along with the Lions and Highlanders.

The Chiefs have the squad to win a third successive title but it will take a massive mental effort for Liam Messam’s boys to back up the achievements of 2012 and 2013.

The Crusaders will always be a top six team but under Todd Blackadder they have never looked like winning the tournament. It is five years since the Crusaders won Super Rugby and if Blackadder fails again in 2014 it could open the door for Robbie Deans’ return.

The Blues best run-on XV looks good but there isn’t the depth to sustain a challenge. This was evident in the pre-season hammering against Tahs in Sydney.

The Reds in 2013 were ravaged because of injury. I am expecting them to show the championship form of 2011 when they won the title.

The Sharks and Stormers have the strongest squads among the South African teams but I don’t see the Stormers being good enough to win the tournament.

I like everything about the Sharks, but something tells me this could be the year of the Tahs

Every team that has won the tournament has had something special at halfback. The Stormers don’t have a halfback pairing that will dominate big games. Individually they have capable halfbacks but they don’t have world-class operators. It is a weakness, just as it was in 2013 and 2012.

The Bulls have lost too many experienced players to Europe. They may still be a headache at Loftus but on the road they won’t win much.

The Sharks, on paper, have a squad that rates as good as any top-four challenger, but then this is a tournament won over eight months and not on paper.

I like everything about the Sharks, but something tells me this could be the year of the Tahs. They’ve been Australian Super Rugby’s biggest under-achievers, but when they get it together, they have the best attacking game in the tournament. They need to get consistency into their play and also keep their primary match squad fit enough to last most of the tournament.

The competition will have a definite top eight and bottom seven two-tier feeling to it.

But I feel it in the bones that this is a year that New Zealand won’t dominate and that the competition winner will come from either Australia (Tahs) or South Africa (Sharks).

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36 Comments

  1. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Hmmm I am not so sure. We all know how the Sharks are going to play and I doubt it will be balanced enough to win the tournament.

    The Stomers scored 4 tries off a maul in their game against the Kings so nothing new there.

    Its too early to tell but I get the feeling this year we are going to see a slight change in how teams approach the breakdown with more tactical kicking (which is very different to a kick and charge) and less ball being held in possession.

  2. avatar Morne Nortier says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Keo is drunk.

    Sharks SA's best chance, but Tahs?

  3. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    The bias! Cheetahs lost away by 2 points to eventual finalists Brumbies last year and have strengthened their squad this year yet yo simple never hear anything other than ‘entertainment value’ when all the coastal based journo’s describe their chances.

    Basta!

    So too the Bulls, who despite being written off last year were our conference winners.

    The money, hairtyles, Top Billing appearances of our fancy coastal teams does not by default make them favorites every year. Or does it?

  4. avatar Morné says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    @Cheetah Glory:

    It does.

  5. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Janee read the media: ’cause White is the coach the Sharks only have to show up this year to win.

    I can see a very expensive train de-railing this year….

  6. avatar Americano says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    I think it does.
    One messerschmitt alone – even if piloted by the Red baron himself – Willie LeRoux does not a S15 championship make.

    Hopefully Naka Drotske channeled some of his creativity he has to spare by not making sensible wardrobe fashion choices into great personnel & structure innovations this year.

    The line between glory and all out failure is always a thin one when it comes to The Fun Bunch.

  7. avatar Timeo says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    S10: SA dominate
    S12: SA was no where
    S14: SA dominate
    S15: SA no where again

    The difference being perhaps the relative travel loads between the formats.
    The Sharks are a good team, but are they good enough to over come the handicap and finish top of the log and win finals against fresher opponents, without the benefit of altitude?

    It will say a lot about Jake White, if they do.

  8. avatar Americano says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Jake White is such a wily maestro – I gotta give him the benefit of the doubt.

    After he accomplishes this feat with the C-Cell Sharks I suggest he sets about curing cancer or at least campaigns for better manners on the public road ways.

  9. avatar Pokkel says:
    February 11th, 2014 at 8:11 am

    Do you think that with Goosen being fit that the Cheetahs will change their gameplan much? The Cheetahs did very well last year when Goosen got injured because it meant that Willie basically ran the show and regularly pop up in the flyhalf position. With Goosen back will Willie still play the game way and try and dictate from the back?

    I’d like to hear you opinions.

  10. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    February 11th, 2014 at 10:17 am

    We hear this from the Tahs every year and they never deliver!
    :dead horse:

  11. avatar Boertjie says:
    February 11th, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I haven’t done an in-depth analysis of the
    fixtures, but the Sharks have a wonderful
    start: Their first 9 games are all in SA,
    only 2 not in Durban!

    Stormers on the contrary play in J’Burg and
    CT and then four on the trott abroad.

    Who said SS is a fair competition?

    With Jake at the helm the Sharks should be
    in the final four at least. I don’t have
    too much hope for the Cape side, they may
    even finish below the Cheetahs.

  12. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    February 11th, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    @Boertjie:

    it all depends who you play when… IMO Stormers with an away start have a home finish which could work in their favour. All in all you play whats in front of you and beat what is in front of you…

    Will be interesting to see how the teams compare after the 1st few weeks.

  13. avatar Boertjie says:
    February 11th, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    GOOD NEWS FOR AMERICANO

    The Cheetahs will welcome back star Springbok Willie le Roux when they take on the Lions in the opening round of the Super Rugby competition.

  14. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    February 11th, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    @Boertjie:

    Apart from Sharks game the Brumbies were good at one thing last year, and that was milking penalties. I hope to christ a dictum was sent to refs about it this year.

    You will have teams like Sharks and Stormers basically just scrumming and rucking to earn penalties which are then either converted or kicked to the corner to maul.

    They call it winning rugby and if teams are allowed to get away with it, this is what we have to look forward to.

    In other news it just started snowing in Dublin. Nice

  15. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    February 11th, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    @Pokkel:

    Pokkel thats a good question.

    I think it all depends how they plan to use Venter. It will be very weird for the Cheetahs to suddenly use a 12 to straighten the line whereas Ebersohn fulfilled a very different role.

    If I were Cheetahs I would not use Willie so often this year as he will be marked. Rather use him as decoy in first few phases?

  16. avatar Americano says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 2:07 am

    Boertje –
    I think everyone is overwrought with glee regarding the Messerschmitt news – but for perhaps Gavin Rich.

    I can imagine hamlets throughout the country breaking into song, popping the cork on that wedding wine that had been saved – cats & dogs becoming couch mates & so on….

  17. avatar Americano says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 2:19 am

    Pokkel -
    I haven’t the slightest on why YearoftheCheetah turned into CheetahGlory but assume its due to islamic conversion or some other type where you gotta change that sorta thing….

    Point is I like CG’s notion of using MWLR as a decoy. Who knows what void will be unfilled or runneth over by the absence of Ebersohn this year.

    I like the idea of the Goose taking 1st ball in set play & Willie doing the loose – The Goose has a howitzer for a leg ( so to by the way did Henny-Penny Daniller hope he’s doing well the dude was a shut down defensive FB)

    I want Trev Nykane to find inspiration to right his big fat ship as the Fun Bunch jumps onboard setting sail for playoff glory.

    This is where Bunny comes in…..with his connections perhaps he can set Trev up with Miss Zambia or something? That…oughta get his motor – a – running.

  18. avatar out wide says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 2:24 am

    I wouldn’t dismiss Keo’s support for the Waratahs too quickly. Admittedly they were playing at home against a Blues side short of an All Black or two in their forwards but 33-12 is a pretty good score. All eyes might have been on the Blues rugby league convert Benji Marshall but the Tahs had a guy called Alofa Alofa that they too inherited from rugby league who apparently scored a peach of a try. With Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau also in their backline, they could cause some damage this year.

    This Friday’s trial game v the Highlanders in Newcastle NSW could be interesting and a pointer as to how well they will go.

  19. avatar Pokkel says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    @Cheetah Glory: @Americano:

    Interesting thoughts. Lets see how this plays out for my second team.

  20. avatar Timeo says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    @out wide:

    Surely, everyone realizes by now that the events and outcomes of pre-season games carries no significance?

  21. avatar Timeo says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    @Pokkel:

    I think your question is mute.

    Goosen will most likely be injured and out for the season by week 4 or 5.

  22. avatar David Spohr says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Ooooh Timeo you have a bitchy streak in you… are you of the female sex or is your gender bent away from the masculine in some way?
    I think Mark Keohane is not off drugs yet…
    The Cheetahs are the dark horse side in SA as I see it…
    Like the 2009 season when the Bulls were casually written off by the coastal journos in favour of the Sharks and Stormers

  23. avatar Timeo says:
    February 13th, 2014 at 1:08 am

    @David Spohr:

    No. I think in real life I’m a completely different animal.

    Politeness over frankness to preserve harmony.

    Internet forums, with violence unlikely, are ideal to challenge and be challenged. Hopefully the persons on the other side of posts learn something. I know I do. ;)

    Danger lurks when people start to interact online with the same people they interact face to face with. Especially for kids. I think the social networks’ harm outweigh their benefits.

  24. avatar Boertjie says:
    February 13th, 2014 at 10:24 am

    @Timeo:

    :applause:

  25. avatar Vernonimous says:
    February 13th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    @Timeo
    Very well put.

  26. avatar DavidS says:
    February 13th, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    The internet tough guy syndrome…

  27. avatar Aldo says:
    February 13th, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Does ruggaworld have a superbru group this year?

  28. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    February 14th, 2014 at 1:08 am

    @Timeo:

    Not entirely true Timeo,

    Last year the Cheetahs beat the Stormers by one point in a pre-season game in Bloem and you could clearly see how that affected the Cheetah players – who for once started believing a bit.

  29. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    February 14th, 2014 at 1:35 am

    @Aldo:

    I hope not. You guys kick my arse every year despite me being the only guy in the forum who knows about rugby…

  30. avatar Methos The French Stormer says:
    February 14th, 2014 at 11:19 am

    @Cheetah Glory:

    Puff Puff pass

    If we left things up to you there would be no lineouts, uncontested scrums, 13 players on the pitch, no mauls, no rucks and after each tackle the player would have to get up and roll the ball to the scrummy…

    Cheers

  31. avatar Timeo says:
    February 14th, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    @Cheetah Glory:

    You’ve assigned meaning after the outcome of the season was known. That’s very different from ascertaining a meaning before it’s known.

    For every pre-season game you can show, that became indicative of the season, I can show, one that did not.

    Which means you’re assigning meaning to coin tosses.

  32. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    February 14th, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    @Timeo:

    Maybe you are right. There is no way I can prove it.

    Yet as a fan I cold sense how much that meant to the Cheetahs, who up to that point lost to the Stormers for 2 seasons on the trot with very close scores.

    It just seemed as though the win meant a lot to their confidence going into the season.

  33. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    February 14th, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    @Methos The French Stormer:

    Not a big fan of league. I like all the facets of union apart from the maul, which is obstruction and counter to the spirit of the game if not allowed to be pulled down.

    The 10000 scrum resets have already been improved upon so there is little for me to moan about.

  34. avatar DavidS says:
    February 14th, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    @Cheetah Glory:

    2005 preseason Bulls v Stormers in Dubai: Stormers win and Schalk Burger deliriously tosses Victor Matfield’s scrumcap into the crowd like they’ve won the Super 12 trophy. Keohane and Co wisely pronounce THIS season is the Stormers’ season to lose in SR…

    Fast forward to the first game of the season and the lowly Cats beat the Stormers

    Fats forward to the final round robin game of the season Bulls v Stormers 75-14 Bulls (FT)

    Just saying…

  35. avatar DavidS says:
    February 14th, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    @Cheetah Glory:

    The facetious intelligence of a forward is far beyond the ability of a mere backline player to understand…

    Methos he thought you were serious

  36. avatar Morne Nortier says:
    February 14th, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    If Goosen makes 3 rounds I will be surprised.

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