Lots of excitement surrounds Super Rugby round 2, as The New Zealanders begin their campaigns with some great internal clashes and the Aussies join the competition too. We look forward to some exciting points of this weekend’s rugby.
The Stormers Pack
Last week saw the Stormers begin their Super Rugby campaign by securing a somewhat unconvincing 28-20 win over the Jaguars. However what was convincing was the promise and powerfulness of their pack. The Stormers, who boast two Springbok locks (Eben Etzebeth and Pieter- Steph Du Toit) in their squad, played their first match without them and fared just fine, with young talent JD Shickerling performing very well. This week Pieter-Steph Du Toit returns to partner Shickerling, seeing Chris Van Zyl bolster the bench. The dynamic Sikhumbuzo Notshe is another exciting return to the squad and should add a lot of impact from the bench in the last quarter of the match if he is to be utilised correctly. Captain Siya Kolisi looks to have seamlessly translated last year’s form into this year after a brilliant opening match this past weekend, seeing powerful carries, a great defensive work rate and a storming run which resulted in a try. The Stormers pack is not only a powerful unit but boasts skill and a good mix of youth experience. If they can dominate the Waratahs up front, they could lay the platform for a victorious beginning to their tour.
WATCH: Kolisi’s try vs the Jaguares last weekend
Damian McKenzie, the Flyhalf
New Zealand, for the first time in a while see themselves without their flyhallf depth of the past, with Aaron Cruden and Lima Sopoaga both playing abroad. And whilst they may not be lacking in flyhallf talent, they do lack in experience, were Beauden Barrett to get injured. It is in this vain that the McKenzie experiment has unfolded, with the chiefs being encouraged to use the explosive utility back at flyhalf for this Super Rugby season, in the hope that he succeeds and can provide cover at international level. McKenzie has a season of All Blacks rugby under his belt and boasts a bit of experience, but it will be interesting to see if he can translate his form at the back to a pivot position. If so, this means exciting things for the Chiefs and All Blacks as he would bring an unpredictable and fast paced dynamic to their backline play. Meanwhile, eyes will also be on the talented young Crusaders ten Richie Mo’unga who promises a lot but is still relatively inexperienced. A great spectacle is promised as we see how each flyhallf will manage their equally experienced backlines when the Chiefs come up against the Crusaders this weekend.
WATCH: Damian McKenzie 2017 highlights
Sonny Bill Williams
Last year saw a successful yet fairly non-special season from the superstar centre. Williams was consistently good last year, without being noticeably exceptional. The physicality in the carry and the insane offloading ability that characterises Williams as the brilliant inside centre he is appeared in bursts last year, but was exception rather than rule. While he was sound on attack and brought a great element in terms of defensive organisation and work rate (making 22 tackles against the Springboks in Cape Town), I’d like to see Williams back to his explosive best this season, making consistent game breaking impact as he did in the Blues victory over the British and Irish Lions last year, where he was not only instrumental in the win, but laid the platform for Ihaia West’s brilliant try. Lets hope he starts the season off with a bang tomorrow, as the Blues centre pairing of Williams and Moala should bully the Highlander’s duo of Thompson and Walden.
WATCH: Sonny Bill Williams instrumental in match winning try vs British and Irish Lions