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Mils Muliaina

Mils Muliaina

British police have charged All Blacks star Mils Muliaina with sexual assault over an incident that took place in Cardiff 4 months ago, it was reported Friday.

The 34-year-old fullback, who won 100 caps for the All Blacks over a 9-year period, was charged after being interviewed by South Wales Police on Wednesday.

“Mils Muliaina has been charged with sexual assault on a female aged 16 or over. He is scheduled to appear at Cardiff Magistrates Court on 7 August 2015,” a police statement read.

Muliaina was arrested in early April after playing for Irish province Connacht in a loss to Gloucester, with television pictures showing police leading him from Kingsholm Stadium.

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Super RugbyIt is the Final of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

The long awaited game to determine the champions of 2015 is finally upon us!

Of course, the South African and Australian Franchises are already done and dusted and only 2 New Zealand sides remain in the race, the all season Log leading Hurricanes and the New Zealand Cinderella side, the Highlanders.

The Final takes place in Wellington, New Zealand at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT), at Westpac Stadium.

The Hurricanes are firm favourites for the game, having had by far the best overall performance of all 15 Super Rugby franchises in Super Rugby 2015, and running away with the Combined Log. They certainly played entertaining rugby and a lot of it has to be attributed to their forwards finally stepping up to the plate to match their tremendous backline.

Their defensive structures were much improved and their dangerous backline fired.. if one did not know any better one would swear that every last player was on some serious performance enhancing drugs.

I’ve always said that the Hurricanes were always underperforming in relation to the team they have on paper, but in 2015 all the elements finally came together to make them a fabulous side.

Whatever happens in the final, they deserve plaudits for the season of 2015!

The Highlanders on the other side, turned a lot of seemingly no-name forwards into a monster pack and their backline players turned into a dangerous unit with All Blacks written all over every member.

The Highlanders have lost twice to the Hurricanes already in 2015 but last weekend in the semi-final against the Waratahs they showed that they have progressed upwards a number of rungs in the 2015 season and specifically in the last few weekends.

The Highlanders, having almost always been considered New zealand’s step-child Super Rugby side, have had a real Cinderella season and deserve to be in the final and one is almost unwillingly tempted to urge them on for all the honours in the Final.

As a totally neutral observer, all I can say is that I enjoyed the rugby these two teams dished up for us all in 2015… and may the best team win!

Let the Final roll on… no guts, no glory!

Enjoy it with me, folks.

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Super Rugby finalists' NAME PLATES, which one will be engraved?

Super Rugby finalists’ NAME PLATES, which one will be engraved?

 

After 124 games spread across 18 Rounds and a fortnight of finals, we stand at the cusp of crowning a 1st-time Super Rugby champion.

We run the rule over both teams – examine their strengths, potntial weaknesses and try to decipher where the game will be won.

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HurricanesChris Boyd has announced his side to battle the Highlanders for the Super Rugby title but is still sweating on Ardie Savea who is yet to prove his fitness.

Meanwhile, Saturday night’s finale will quietly take on an extra meaning for a few of the men in black and yellow.

For long-serving Hurricanes Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and Jeremy Thrush, and fellow teammates Chris Smylie, Rey Lee-Lo and Ben Franks, it will be the last time they run onto Westpac Stadium as Hurricanes.

With 468 caps between them, the 6 players will leave a sizeable hole at the Hurricanes when they depart at the end of the season, but not before they do their best to help lift a Super Rugby trophy for their club.

Boyd has named a similar line-up to help those 6 guys do the job, with the only change coming at reserve hooker where Motu Matu’u returns from a knee injury.

Savea’s knee will continue to be monitored throughout the remainder of the week, with Callum Gibbins bracketed as cover should Savea not be deemed fit.

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HighlandersThe Highlanders will line up with an unchanged side for the Super Rugby Final against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Head coach Jamie Joseph has chosen to stick with the same 15 that knocked off the defending champion Waratahs in Sydney a week ago.

On Saturday Elliot Dixon will make his 50th Super Rugby appearance for the Highlanders, while co-captains Ben Smith and Nasi Manu will once more lead the side.

The only change to the squad comes on the bench, where Marty Banks replaces Trent Renata, while Joseph has stuck with 6 forwards on the bench.

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New ZealandNew Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen brought in some reinforcements as his team gears up for a brutal Test against Samoa in Apia next week Wednesday.

With a number of key All Blacks involved in the Super Rugby Final between the Hurricanes and Highlanders, Hansen wanted to add some depth to the squad training in Auckland this week.

17 Members of Hansen’s 41-player squad were ruled out because of their involvement in Saturday’s Super Rugby decider.

3 More players – uncapped Chiefs midfield backs Charlie Ngatai and Seta Tamanivalu, as well as Crusaders utility Tom Taylor – have been brought into the New Zealand camp in Auckland.

With injury issues surrounding some others, Hansen initially announced 2 stand-by players – scrumhalf Andy Ellis and uncapped prop Nepo Laulala.

He had already boosted numbers last week when 3 uncapped players joined a training camp in Auckland – midfield back George Moala, scrumhalf Brad Weber and prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi.

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New Zealand Rugby have paid homage to the most iconic of All Blacks teams, The Originals, in the design of their World Cup jersey which includes the latest in sporting apparel technology.

Developed with the input of All Blacks management and senior players, the jersey features a special design across the shoulders and chest – inspired by the famous leather yoke which adorned The Originals jersey.

The subtle design change pays respect to the legendary Originals team which toured the United Kingdom, France and the USA in 1905 – 1906 – losing just 1 match on their famous 35-match tour.

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Jaco Peyper

Jaco Peyper

Jaco Peyper of South Africa has been appointed to referee the Final of Super Rugby 2015. He will thus be heading for Wellington, New Zealand for this great match.

When he heard of the appointment on Sunday, Peyper was understandably excited, as was André Watson, South Africa’s refereeing boss.

Peyper, a Bloemfontein lawyer, is no stranger to finals. On his way up the refereeing ladder, when he was doing mainly Under 19 matches, he refereed the provincial Under 19 Final. When he was further up the ladder, he refereed the Under 21 Final. Then higher still, he refereed the Vodacom Cup Final. Then in 2012 he refereed the Currie Cup Final and now the Super Rugby Final.

It is the 23rd Super Rugby Final since the 1st one in 1993. Of the 22 finals already refereed South African referees have refereed 14 – André Watson (5), Jonathan Kaplan (3), Craig Joubert (3) and Freek Burger, Tappe Henning and Mark Lawrence (1 each). Peyper will be the 6th South African referee to referee a Final.

Peyper is now on the way to being a vastly experienced referee – after 22 Tests, 60 Super Rugby matches and 55 Currie Cup matches.

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Chris Boyd

Chris Boyd

Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd said he is taking nothing from his team’s 2 wins over the Highlanders this season ahead of their Final with same opponents on Saturday.

The Hurricanes won their Round 6 encounter 20 / 13 in Dunedin and then in dominant fashion thrashed the Highlanders side 56 / 20 in the return fixture in Round 17 in Napier. However, the latter win was against a considerably weaker Highlanders outfit than the one that they will be facing this Saturday.

“If you remember the last game in Napier they rested their 3 All Blacks (Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa),” Boyd said.

“Patrick Osborne and Nasi Manu also did not play. It was 5 key players for them – so we will take absolutely no energy from that performance at all.”

Conditions for Saturday’s Final is expected to be wet, which might nullify the attacking threats of both teams who are the competition’s leading try scorers. Boyd, on the other hand, feels that there will be running rugby regardless of the conditions.

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Kieran Keane

Kieran Keane

The Chiefs have confirmed their coaching staff for the next 2 seasons.

Current coaches Dave Rennie and Andrew Strawbridge will be joined by Tasman ITM Cup coach Kieran Keane and Canada’s national forwards coach Neil Barnes.

Chiefs CEO Andrew Flexman said, “We are well aware of the importance of having a world class coaching group to succeed in this competition.

“I have no doubt that our management team for the next few years are capable of continuing the Chiefs legacy of on-field success given the mix of coaching skill-sets and experience they possess.”

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie is extremely happy with his new management team.

“I’m really looking forward to working with KK and Barnsey. They are bloody good men, experienced and innovative coaches who are prepared to challenge and work hard. They’ll fit in well here,” he said.

Current Chiefs assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge extended his contract for 2 years.

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Charlie Ngatai

Charlie Ngatai

Chiefs centre Charlie Ngatai will captain an exciting mix of experienced hands and promising young talent when the Maori All Blacks play Fiji and the New Zealand Barbarians.

Coach Colin Cooper has retained 13 players who took part in last year’s tour to Japan, drafted in 3 members of the World Champion New Zealand Under 20 team and boasts 10 new caps ahead of their matches in July.

“This is a well-balanced side with some very experienced campaigners who have now played on several tours and know our systems well. I’ll be expecting them to lead by example and show the new boys the high standards we expect.

“We have a proud record of success to uphold and I am sure this side will work hard to honour the great legacy of the Maori All Blacks,” Cooper said.

Akira Ioane, who had a stellar Super Rugby season for the Blues and went on to help the Under 20 side win the World Title in Italy, is joined by fellow Under 20 stars flyhalf Otere Black and utility back Sean Wainui while Sevens star Rieko Ioane has also been added to the squad.

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HurricanesThis week’s Super Rugby news is of course dominated by the only 2 sides left in the 2015 competition, who will meet in the Final on Saturday, namely the Highlanders and Hurricanes.

In this article we focus on various aspects in the final week for the Hurricanes. We look at how they will approach the final, Conrad Smith discusses his 12-year Hurricanes career and we look at the Hurricane sinjury situation ahead of Saturday’s final.

 

Game Approch – Keep attacking:

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd says that his team will not change their attacking approach when they host their first Super Rugby Final.

The Wellington side will host the Highlanders on the weekend which means that Super Rugby will have a 1st-time titleholder, and for the 5th time it will be an all-New Zealand affair.

The table-topping Hurricanes sealed their home final with a 29 / 9 victory over the Brumbies, while the Highlanders travelled to Sydney and beat the defending champion Waratahs to secure their spot.

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HighlandersHighlanders co-captain Nasi Manu said that his side are happy to be written off ahead of the Super Rugby Final against the Hurricanes.

Despite having just 3 All Blacks in their side the Highlanders upset the defending champion Waratahs in their Sydney semi-final on Saturday, and Manu said they relish being underdogs.

“It just added fuel to the fire, coming over here and everyone writing us off,” Manu said. “No-one really expected anything from us. I guess we have always been the underdogs and I believe we thrive off that.”

The Highlanders will be up against the weight of history as well in Wellington, as since the conference system was implemented in 2011 no team that finished outside the Top-2 places on the competition ladder has won.

The Brumbies, Sharks and Crusaders have all made it all the way to the final, only to stumble at the final hurdle.

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Lima Sopoaga

Lima Sopoaga

The Highlanders have received a boost with the news that flyhalf Lima Sopoaga, who suffered a knee injury at a training camp, is set to take his place in their Super Rugby semi-final against the Waratahs.

“He’s fine. He just twisted his knee, it’s a wee bit of a one off,” coach Jamie Joseph said in Sydney on Friday. “It was a wee bit of a scare for everybody, but he’s fine and he’s going to train today.”

The 24-year-old, who has also been named in an extended All Blacks squad, had initially feared he might have to sit out Saturday’s match against the defending champions.

“I think his body feels fine today and, as Jamie said, it was just a bit of a scare at the time,” added Highlanders co-captain Ben Smith.

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HurricanesThe Hurricanes have not stumbled upon a magic formula this season and their success is built on hard work put in over the last few years by a maturing playing group, according to their coach and captain.

The Hurricanes host Australia’s Brumbies in the Super Rugby semi-final at Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday after finishing top of the standings.

It is the 1st semi-final the Wellington-based side have hosted since 2006, creating an expected sell out, and their 1st appearance in the playoffs since 2009.

“I don’t think there’s a silver bullet and there’s not one answer,” coach Chris Boyd said about their success.

“There are a whole lot of bits and pieces that has got the chemistry right.”

The progression of players such as new All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder from the wider training group and the experience gained through seasons of Super Rugby had also played a part, Boyd said.

Captain Conrad Smith, who will play his last game for the Hurricanes on Saturday if his side lose, felt the team’s success had been down to the work done over the last few years.

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Super RugbyIt is the Semi-Final Round of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are only 2 matches in the Round, 1 in New Zealand and 1 in Australia.

1St Place on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes hosts the lowest Qualifier, the Brumbies. In the other match 2nd on the Log, the Waratahs hosts the other qualifier from last weekend, the Highlanders.

The 2 Franchises who finished in the No 1 and No 2 spots on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes and Waratahs respectively, have had wonderful rest weekends, as they sat out during the Top 6 Qualification Round last weekend.

The action is kicked off by the Hurricanes vs Brumbies who do battle in Wellington at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT) on Saturday 27 June.

A little later, over in Sydney, Australia, the Waratahs plays the Highlanders at 11:55 SA Time (19:55 AEST, 21:55 NZ Time, 09:55 GMT).

After this Round only 2 Teams remain to contest the Final next weekend.

The Hurricanes vs Brumbies game should be an absolute cracker after the Brumbies’ massive win over the DHL Stormers last weekend, but one would have to give a nod to the most consistent team of this year’s series, the Hurricanes, who have stood out head and shoulders above all comers in 2015.

Both teams sport great backlines but I am of the opinion that the Hurricanes are punching at the weight they should always punch at in 2015, and I give the win to them, but not by a large margin.

As far as the other match is concerned, do we give home ground advantage enough weight to speculate that the Waratahs will overcome the staunch Highlanders in Sydney… even though their regular league season was not as brilliant as last season, OR do we say that the Highlander’s faerie tale will continue in 2015?

It is a difficult call to make and I’m leaning towards the Waratahs making it at home in Sydney!

Meanwhile 11Teams are already lounging around, no longer part of the race to the finish line.

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HighlandersSaturday’s Semi-Final will see the Highlanders’ field an almost identical starting 15 to the side that beat the Chiefs last Saturday in an encounter of epic proportions.

The only change – openside flanker James Lentjes replaces the injured Dan Pryor. Lentjes was called up for injuries earlier in the season and has showed a lot of promise in his 4 games to date.

The team also welcomes back experienced lock Joe Wheeler from a lengthy injury break to take his place on the bench alongside Trent Renata.

Renata replaces the versatile Marty Banks who took a head knock during the week and while working through the concussion protocols is unavailable for action this week.

The team will again be captained by the experienced duo of Ben Smith and Nasi Manu who will be playing their 104th and 80th game respectively.

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HurricanesThe Hurricanes will welcome back star flyhalf Beauden Barrett for their semi-final clash against the Brumbies on Saturday, but will be without the services of Cory Jane.

Jane failed to recover from a hamstring injury he suffered in his team’s 21 / 13 win over the Chiefs, with his place taken by Nehe Milner-Skudder, who moves from fullback to the right wing.

Milner-Skudder’s shift sees James Marshall move from flyhalf to the fullback position, with Barrett recovering from his niggle to take over the pivot position.

The Hurricanes will also be further boosted by the return of Ma’a Nonu who was rested for the Chiefs clash 2 weeks ago. He replaces Rey Lee-Lo, who drops down to the bench.

In the pack, new All Blacks squad member James Broadhurst returns to partner Jeremy Thrush, while explosive flank Ardie Savea also returns replacing Callum Gibbins.

The only other changes to the matchday squad is on the bench, which sees Blade Thomson and Matt Proctor both return from injury and will be on the bench. Scrumhalf Chris Smylie also returns to provide cover for TJ Perenara.

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Michael Leitch

Michael Leitch

Michael Leitch will be back in Chiefs colours after signing to remain in Hamilton for the 2016 Super Rugby season.

The Japanese national team captain has been impressive for the Chiefs this season, earning the Rookie of the Year award as voted for by the players.

“Michael has made a huge impression in his debut season,” said Chiefs coach Dave Rennie.

“He is a top man, very professional and has been a real positive influence on our younger players. We appreciate Michael’s desire and commitment to return to the Chiefs and we are rapt that he will be back for us.”

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Chris Boyd

Chris Boyd

Hurricanes’ coach Chris Boyd is backing his loose forward trio to step up in their crunch Super Rugby semifinal against the Brumbies on Saturday.

Boys feels Victor Vito and Ardie Savea’s Test aspirations will lift their game and believes Savea was very unlucky to miss out on All Black selection.

He is expecting a compelling response from the 21-year-old flank when he goes head-to-head with Wallaby openside David Pocock in Saturday’s showdown in Wellington.

Boyd believes his 21-year-old tearaway will be a solid replacement if All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, Sam Cane or Matt Todd should be struck down by injury.

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R.I.P Norman Berryman

R.I.P. Norman Berryman

New Zealand Rugby said on Tuesday that cult hero “Stormin” Norman Berryman has died at the age of 42.

Reports said Berryman suffered a heart attack at his home near Perth, Australia, where he settled after his rugby career.

Berryman, a powerful winger, was a fan favourite during a long career in Super Rugby but played just 1 Test for the All Blacks, a 23 / 24 loss to South Africa in 1998.

He was widely considered to be unlucky to miss out on more Test caps but was competing for spots against the likes of Jonah Lomu and Inga Tuigamala.

Berryman also did himself no favours with his outspoken criticism of then All Blacks coach John Hart, who he said “has got a vibe about him that projects negativity”.

He famously walked out of an All Blacks training camp in Auckland and hitch-hiked home to Whangarei after a disagreement with Hart.

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All BlacksThe All Blacks selectors gave their 1st hint of World Cup thinking, naming 5 new faces in an enlarged 41-man squad.

Coach Steve Hansen has named 33 new All Blacks since they won the last World Cup in 2011 with the latest additions being Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor, Hurricanes lock James Broadhurst and fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder, Highlanders flyhalf Lima Sopoaga and wing Waisake Naholo.

Naholo is the leading try-scorer in Super Rugby this year, touching down twice in the Highlanders 24 / 14 play-off victory over the Chiefs on Saturday to take his total for the year to 11.

Milner-Skudder is a cousin of Buff Milner and a nephew of George Skudder, both former All Blacks.

There is also a recall for 3-Test hooker Hika Elliot who has not been required for international duty since June 2012.

A final group of 31 to defend their world crown will be named at the end of August following The Rugby Championship Tests against South Africa, Australia and Argentina as well as a 1-off Test with Samoa and an extra clash with Australia.

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Liam Messam

Liam Messam

The Chiefs will be without a host of players next season including captain Liam Messam who will play Sevens in a bid to make the Olympics.

Messam and star centre Sonny Bill Williams will be part of a large group of players that will not be around next season, and coach Dave Rennie admitted that his captain will be a massive loss to the side.

“Not just his playing ability but his leadership – he’s very charismatic, incredibly passionate – he’ll be very difficult to replace.

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Dan Pryor

Dan Pryor

Dan Pryor’s Super Rugby season is likely over after the versatile forward suffered a dislocated elbow in his side’s Qualifier triumph over the Chiefs.

Pryor came from the field in the 61st minute and the Highlanders confirmed via social media on Sunday morning that the 27-year-old had suffered the injury.

Head coach Jamie Joseph confirmed that Pryor will definitely miss next week’s Semi-Final against the Waratahs.

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Sir John Kirwan

Sir John Kirwan

Tana Umaga

Tana Umaga

Sir John Kirwan:

Blues rugby legend Sir John Kirwan has resigned his role as head coach of the organisation.

Kirwan, who has been head coach for 3 years, has announced that he will not seek reappointment for a further term as coach and will step aside, effective immediately.

While Kirwan had put up a proposal to the Blues board for his continued involvement, he said that he had reconsidered over the past few days after talking with his family, colleagues and friends.

“I had a chance to take a breath and reflect about the situation, my future and above all my love of this Blues club and the players,” Kirwan said.

“People who know me well know that I do not walk away from a challenge and that was what was driving me because I know what has been set-up in terms of organisational structure in the last 2 years.

“However I always said that if I didn’t bring about the results that the players, the club and the fans wanted, then I would step aside.”

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Super RugbyIt is the Top 6 Qualifying Round of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are only 2 matches in the Round, 1 in New Zealand and 1 in South Africa.

3rd Placed on the Combined Log, the DHL Stormers (albeit 3rd only by reason of the Conference Syystem), hosts 6th on the Log, the Brumbies. In the other match 4th on the Log, the Highlanders, hosts 5th on the Log, the Chiefs.

The 2 Franchises who finished in the No1 and No 2 spots on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes and Waratahs respectively, have lovely rest weekends, as they only meet the winners of this Round’s matches next weekend in the Semi-Finals.

The action is kicked off by the Highlanders vs Chiefs who do battle in Dunedin at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT)

Much later in the day, in Cape Town, South Africa, the DHL Stormers host the Brumbies at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, Sunday 01:05 AEST, Sunday 03:05 NZ Time).

After this Round of Top 6 Qualifying matches, only 4 teams will remain and there will be 2 Semi-Final matches next weekend, followed by a Final match for the ultimate winner a week later.

The Highlanders vs Chiefs game should be an absolute cracker, with both teams getting some injured players back into the fold. It is extremely difficult to pick a winner for this game and the different pundits differ on the winner of the match, with probable the bigger percentage backing the Chiefs for an away win. I differ from that though, and I think if there is ONE YEAR where the Highlanders could make it to the Semi-Finals, it is this year, at home, at Forsyth Barr stadium.

Both teams sport great backlines but I am of the opinion that the Highlanders might have a slightly more abrasive forwards pack and possibly also a better scrumhalf and flyhalf, both of whom have come on in leaps and bounds in 2015, namely Aaron Smith and Lima Sopoaga.

I predict the Highlanders to squeek a win, in a very entertaining match.

As far as the other match is concerned, do we give home ground advantage enough weight to speculate that the DHL Stormers will overcome the Brumbies in Cape Town… even though their regular league game was only a 21 / 20 win for the Stormers and with Christian Lealiifano missing an absolute peach of a conversion attempt, from right in front, OR do we say that the Brumbies will win the game in the absense of Duane Vermeulen and likely also Schalk Burger, both with some injury concerns?

The South African scribes and pundits all patriotically pick the Stormers for a win, but I am hesitant to do so and think this game’s result is a perfect 50 / 50 guess, so may the best team take it!

Meanwhile 9 Teams are already lounging around, no longer part of the race to the finish line.

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HighlandersHighlanders head coach Jamie Joseph welcomes back Malakai Fekitoa and 2 key forwards and Saturday’s Qualifier against the Chiefs in Dunedin.

Co-captain Nasi Manu and the experienced Mark Reddish make a timely return from injury to bolster the Highlanders pack.

The versatile Dan Pryor, who has played in all 3 back-row positions this season, moves to openside flank to replace the injured John Hardie. In the front row, Daniel Lienert-Brown makes way for Brendon Edmonds.

Fekitoa, who has been under an injury cloud over the last few weeks, has been named to start at centre, re-uniting with the explosive back 3 of Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and Patrick Osborne.

The game will be played in front of a capacity crowd under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium in what will be Dunedin’s first Super Rugby Finals Series match since 1999.

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ChiefsThe Chiefs have announced their team to play the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday as the Super Rugby Finals Series gets underway at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Newly re-signed hooker Hika Elliot and flanker Sam Cane will return to the side, having been rested last week. The match will represent Elliot’s 100th Super Rugby cap after signing a 2-year extension to remain with the club earlier this week while Cane also committed to at least another 2 seasons.

Michael Fitzgerald moves to the blindside while captain Liam Messam takes over No 8 duties. Brad Weber starts at scrumhalf and Andrew Horrell gets the nod at flyhalf.

Cousins Tim Nanai-Williams and Sonny Bill Williams will pair up in the midfield with Charlie Ngatai out due to concussion. Damian McKenzie starts at fullback with Tom Marshall ruled out with a knee injury.

Kayne Hammington gets the opportunity to make his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs off the bench with the 24-year-old scrumhalf being granted approval to play in the wake of a season-ending injury to starting scrumhalf, Augustine Pulu.

He is joined by new reserves Michael Leitch, Marty McKenzie and Seta Tamanivalu.

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Jerry Collins funeral

Jerry Collins funeral

 

All Black legend Jonah Lomu paid tribute to Jerry Collins’ last act of heroism as thousands mourned the ex-New Zealand flank who was killed in a car crash in France.

All Black Chris Masoe had told the funeral service in Wellington that Collins’ dying act was to protect his 3-month-old daughter Ayla in the June 5 crash which killed the player and his partner Alana Madill.

“What they say about how they found him, he was protecting his baby. That’s just typical Jerry. When you talk about putting your body on the line, he did that,” Lomu said.

Masoe said Collins, who was in the back of the car when a bus ploughed into it on a motorway near Beziers, sheltered his daughter with his arms and body when he realised the danger.

“You made it possible for her to have a chance. That is the man you are,” Masoe said.

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Sam Cane

Sam Cane

The Chiefs have re-signed Sam Cane, keeping the All Blacks flanker in Hamilton for at least the next 2 years.

The 23-year-old has been 1 of the stand-out players for the Chiefs this season and this was recognised when he won 3 trophies at the recent 2015 Chiefs Awards.

Cane, who has become a pivotal part of the Chiefs team, collected the Player of the Year voted for by the fans, the Chiefs Player of the Year voted for by the coaches and the Players Player of the Year.

Head coach Dave Rennie is rapt that Cane has committed for another couple of years.

“He’s an outstanding player but more importantly a quality young man, held in high regard by all. His work ethic, leadership and community mindedness continues to have a positive influence on our club.”

Reporoa-born Cane is a highly motivated loose forward who has 1 of the highest and most efficient tackle rates in this year’s Super Rugby competition.

But he says he has plenty of room for improvement.

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Malakai Fekitoa

Malakai Fekitoa

All Black centre Malakai Fekitoa heads the list of key players set to return for the Highlanders’ Super Rugby preliminary play-off match against the Chiefs in Dunedin on Saturday.

Fekitoa missed last Friday’s victory over the Blues because of an injured groin, but coach Jamie Joseph is positive that 1 of his star backs will be fit for the encounter with the 2-time champion Chiefs.

The team received further boosts as they started training for their 1st home play-off match in 16 years.

3 Key forwards – No 8 Nasi Manu (shoulder), as well as locks Mark Reddish (broken hand) and Joe Wheeler (knee) – could be back for this week’s encounter.

Flank John Hardie looks to be the biggest injury concern for the Highlanders as they get into play-off mode.

Hardie, who damaged rib cartilage in the early stages of the match against the Blues at the weekend, could be in doubt.

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  • Te Rangatira 4 Jul 2015, 23:38 SAST - @ cane: Awww Cane.... feel for you....but we know... big games come down to on the day.... whenever I think...
  • Tassies 4 Jul 2015, 21:34 SAST - @ cane: which is not a bad thing Caner. I backed the Landers for one reason only. They were the...
  • Tassies 4 Jul 2015, 21:28 SAST - @ cane: you are a scholar and a gentleman Caner. What else can I say? Humble as always.
  • MacroPolo 4 Jul 2015, 18:16 SAST - Hard luck cane. Still a great season.
  • MacroPolo 4 Jul 2015, 18:12 SAST - Geez these guys show us what they can do when you have all the skills, speed AND size.
  • nortie 4 Jul 2015, 16:38 SAST - @ cane: Not at the dam, he sold the place.....he came round to my place, and as a bonus he...

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