It reeks of a South African stitch-up in the Super 14. With one round to go, the integrity of rugby’s premier provincial competition could be compromised with tournament leaders, the Bulls, set to field a second-string team against the Stormers in the top-of-the-table clash in Cape Town.
Last weekend’s loss to the Hurricanes at Carisbrook ended the Highlanders Dunedin programme on a low since it was their fourth defeat in five home games so far. Perhaps the move to Invercargill this week will help them, with the Highlanders having played 12 previous matches at Rugby Park for six wins, five defeats and a draw.
The Reds have beaten the Crusaders and Bulls – currently numbers one and two on the log – in Brisbane this season, but they will find the third-placed Stormers a very tough proposition too as they endeavour to go unbeaten at home against South African teams for the first time since 2005.
The Force are out of the running for a semifinal spot but their team performance has improved markedly in recent weeks and with some of their top players having returned from injury, they could ruin the Blues goal of a playoff place – since the Blues need to win every game they have left, preferably with bonus points.