Being taunted by 61 000 fans at Ellis Park (Emirates Airline Park) doesn’t cause Kieran Read much anxiety.
No 8 Read expects the Springboks supporters at Johannesburg to rip into the All Blacks on Saturday (Sunday morning NZ Time), but he gives the impression that they could turn the volume up 10-fold and he still wouldn’t be too fussed.
Read is so in-the-zone during matches that the clatter coming out of the mouths of inhospitable fans doesn’t register as being unfriendly, or otherwise.
“I know the crowd will certainly be baying for our blood,” Read said.
“Once you get on the field, it pretty much becomes WHITE NOISE to be honest, and in some ways they could be screaming for you.
“It’s hard to know exactly what is being said.”
New Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will have some big selection decisions to make this week, as his team prepares to take on South Africa’s Springboks at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.
Having rested the bulk of the All Blacks who featured in the all-New Zealand Super Rugby Final (between the Hurricanes and Highlanders) in the 1st 2 Tests of the year, he has to decide how many of them will now be unleashed on the Springboks.
Ben Smith, Aaron Smith, Conrad Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles, Ben Franks, Victor Vito and James Broadhurst are all keen to get a run against Springboks in their Rugby Championship outing on Saturday.
Probably the most interesting selection would be what combination he chooses to oppose South Africa’s exciting new midfield pairing of Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende.
The decision of All Blacks flyhalf Colin Slade to head to Europe after the World Cup has made coach Steven Hansen very aware that the exodus of New Zealand players is not yet over.
Slade is the 10th All Black so far to announce he is heading offshore at the end of the year, to join French club Pau.
Still to confirm their post-World Cup futures are Julian Savea, Sam Cane and Ryan Crotty and, coupled with expected retirements and the impact of the Olympics, coach Steve Hansen is bracing for a difficult 12 months following the World Cup in England.
Cashed-up European clubs, who once targeted players in the twilight of their careers, assisting the All Blacks into an easy rollover of talent, are now creating a talent drain by luring up-and-coming stars.
The Hurricanes could not have asked for a better start to the Super Rugby season, managing 6 wins from as many outings. They are in pole position on the combined standings and are expecting to improve even more as their rested players return.
“The boys are enjoying themselves because winning is way better than losing,” Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree told the NZME.
“But every week there’s something to fix and every week’s not perfect and we are looking to improve the whole time.”
Their defence has been the cornerstone of their success, with only 82 points being scored against them so far, 2nd to the Brumbies who have conceded a mere 80.
Their next challenge comes in the form of the Stormers who were beaten 39 / 21 by the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday. However Plumtree acknowledges the physical threat posed by the Cape outfit, boosted by their very own return of some key players.
“They’ll be hurting after what happened last week,” Plumtree said. “So we’ll be expecting them to respond pretty positively in terms of intensity.”
The Stormers may welcome back a couple of players, namely Duane Vermeulen, and Plumtree said they would bring the physicality associated with any South African team.
“We’ll have to really step up in the pack.”
The Hurricanes rested a number of All Blacks – Beauden Barrett, Ben Franks and Julian Savea – for last week’s game with the Melbourne Rebels but they will likely return this week. Hooker Dane Coles (elbow) also missed the win over the Rebels but is fit again.
Brodie Retallick becomes the fourth New Zealander to be named World Rugby Player of the Year, while the All Blacks and Steve Hansen also win awards.
New Zealand second row Brodie Retallick has been named the World Rugby Player of the Year 2014 by an independent panel, the fourth player from his country to win the prestigious award.The 23-year-old has enjoyed a fantastic year in the middle of the All Blacks’ pack and follows in the footsteps of teammates Kieran Read (2013), Dan Carter (2005 and 2012) and Richie McCaw (2006, 2009 and 2010).
He edged out Willie le Roux (South Africa), Julian Savea (New Zealand), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland) and Duane Vermeulen (South Africa) for the award in a closely fought contest during a year of spectacular performances on the international stage.
The accolade completes a hat-trick of awards for New Zealand, as the All Blacks were named World Rugby Team of the Year 2014 for the eighth time and Steve Hansen the World Rugby Coach of the Year 2014 for the third year in succession.
Springbok fullback Willie le Roux and No 8 Duane Vermeulen on Wednesday were named among five candidates for the IRB World Rugby Player of the year.
The other nominees were Irish flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick and wing Julian Savea. The winner will be revealed at his team’s final match of the season.
In most cases, comparing a young player with a legend of the game is to burden him with unfair expectation.
To say Julian Savea is the new Jonah Lomu is definitely unfair. Unfair because it is selling Savea short. The 24-year-old wing may already have surpassed Lomu, according to All Black coach Steve Hansen.
Launching pads don’t get much better. With the pressure now off, the All Blacks board a flight to Johannesburg today with strut, swagger and no inhibitions.
Yesterday’s four-try 34-13 win over the Pumas clinched a third successive Rugby Championship title but, more importantly, saw the All Blacks regain their attacking groove.
After two weeks battling New Zealand rain they threw off the shackles in La Plata and now have the freedom to craft a gameplan without worrying about any tournament permutations.
To further enhance their 22-test unbeaten run they will be intent on harnessing that flamboyance for a blockbuster clash of styles rematch with the Springboks.
The past few years has seen Rugby’s world be dominated by one group of Villains that we have come to respect, hate, admire, deride, sledge and applaud. Let’s take a look at these Bad Guys and their alter-egos – whilst not forgetting that most of these guys eventually get their comeuppance. – Enjoy!
15. Ben Smith -Keyser Soze – The usual Suspects
This is one of those moments where we are lulled into a false sense of security. The guy looks harmless enough and seems to melt into the background when surrounded by other more unsavory types. But it is with the Big reveal that things unfold and the manipulator truly emerges.
Wing Julian Savea returns to the New Zealand side for Saturday’s second test against England in Dunedin after fullback Israel Dagg was ruled out through injury.
Savea, who has scored 19 tries in 20 matches for the world champion All Blacks, missed the 20-15 first test victory with a knee complaint, but should add extra firepower to the backline after a sluggish performance in Auckland.
Ben Smith moves to fullback from the wing in Dagg’s absence.
Two players are set to clock up 50 matches for the Hurricanes when the team takes on the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.
James Broadhurst and Julian Savea will achieve the milestone when they both run on in the Hurricanes’ starting line-up in this Round 12 Super Rugby encounter.
All Blacks and Hurricanes winger Julian Savea has revealed that the Crusaders are trying to sign him for the 2014 Super Rugby season.
As many as 15 percent of New Zealand’s professional players may be wrestling with stress, anxiety, substance abuse and behavioural and mental health issues.
This is the outcome of a survey, done by the New Zealand Herald, in the wake of the Julian Savea saga – the latest in a long line of All Blacks who fell foul of the law.
Bryan Habana’s spectacular score against New Zealand in the inaugural Rugby Championship has been named Try of the Year for 2012 by the International Rugby Players’ Association.