Former All Blacks fullback Greg Cooper can’t believe Nemani Nadolo is yet to unwrap one of his deadliest tricks.
Cooper, who coaches Nadolo at his Japanese club NEC Green Rockets, hasn’t been surprised the Fijian wing has been a sensation at the Crusaders this season but reckons he can offer even more.
While everyone knows how effective Nadolo can be with the ball in hand, Cooper says one of the best ways to expose defences is to sling cross-kicks to his left wing and reckons there is an 80 per cent chance of scoring if it is executed correctly.
“He is the best winger I have ever seen when taking the ball from cross-kicks,” Cooper, speaking from Japan, emphasised.
Former Sharks assistant coach Chris Boyd doesn’t expect to see the South African side resorting to cynical behaviour or niggle to unsettle the Crusaders.
The Sharks caused a 30-25 boilover when the teams last met in Christchurch in May but they had to do it the hard way, playing 64 minutes with 14 men.
Poor discipline plagued the Sharks with loose forward Jean Deysel sent off after stamping on the face of Crusaders opposite Jordan Taufua. Fellow flanker Willem Alberts was sinbinned in the second half for a professional foul.
Boyd, who will coach the Hurricanes next season, was an assistant at the Sharks in 2009 and 2010 under John Plumtree.
Prior to our 1995 World Cup-winning campaign, the late Kitch Christie told us during one particular team meeting that we could either take the high road or the low road to reach the knockout phase writes Brendan Venter.
While we followed the former path having defeated Australia in our opening match, the Sharks’ class of 2014 have taken the latter route. Although more arduous, nothing is impossible in the oval game.
The new Absa Currie Cup Premier Division format featuring eight teams will come into play on 8 August in a fresh start to SA’s top domestic competition, with newcomers the EP Kings taking on DHL Western Province in the opening match.
The official launch of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup competition was hosted by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and sponsor Absa on Wednesday at Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg where the new format was explained and the 2014 marketing campaign revealed.
The launch featured a Tag rugby match between the media, and the players and coaching staff of the Premier and First Division teams.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs have picked up promising former Western Province Under 21 and UCT loose forward, Vincent Jobo, for their Absa Currie Cup campaign and a good showing may even lead to a Vodacom Super Rugby stint for the player nicknamed “The Animal.”
Jobo had an impressive Varsity Cup last year and is one of the rising stars of Cape Rugby. The decision to move to Bloemfontein for the Currie Cup is an excellent one for him as the former King Edward VII schoolboy has fought his way through the ranks and is now being rewarded for his form.
Remember the days when Kobus van der Merwe was still Stormers coach? In 2006 and 2007, the Stormers ended in 11th and then 10th in consecutive seasons in the then-Super 14 under Van der Merwe’s watch.
Under Allister Coetzee since 2010, the Stormers were losing finalists and then losing semi-finalists for two years. But in 2013 and 2014, they ended seventh and 11th.
It is unacceptable for a team like the Stormers to not at least make the playoffs for two consecutive years. So we took a look at what they need to do to avoid missing out again in 2015.
Highly-rated former SA Schools and SA Under 20 hooker Bongi Mbonambi will join Western Province Rugby at the start of the 2015 season.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer continues his “Dad’s Army” approach by recalling veteran flanker Juan Smith for a training camp ahead of next month’s Rugby Championship.
French club Toulon confirmed three of their South African signings – Smith, lock Bakkies Botha and wing Bryan Habana – would be involved in the Boks camp.
Smith, 32, hasn’t played for the Boks since 2010 as Achilles injuries requiring four surgeries ravaged his career, eventually forcing him to “retire” early last year.
The Cell C Sharks face a daunting task this weekend, there is no doubt about that, and not many will deny that the Crusaders at home are clear cut favorites.
Having to travel to New Zealand to face a Crusader side laden with 18 All Black players in their squad should spell defeat to the side from Durban.
During the build up to this weekend’s match, cliches aplenty will be bandied about and should include phrases like “backs to the wall”, “underdog”, “nothing to lose”. All true and apt, but therein lies the rub.
It appears Cheetahs hooker Adriaan Strauss will make a U-turn and decide not to move from the Cheetahs to the Bulls.
It was reported earlier that Strauss’s move to Pretoria was a done deal, but business interests in Bloemfontein now look likely to keep Strauss at the Cheetahs.
According to reports, the Cheetahs also significantly upped their offer for Strauss and he said that he’ll make a final decision on his future this week.
Wyatt Crockett sounds like a physics teacher as tries to de-mystify the complicated task of demolishing the Sharks’ mauls.
Few things are as difficult to stop as a turbo-charged lineout drive, yet Crockett emphasises that if the Crusaders’ forwards are organised they should fear little in Saturday night’s Super Rugby semifinal at AMI Stadium.
Splintering a maul, usually off a lineout, requires technique and a pinch of luck, as well as a referee who can spot a dodgy truck-and-trailer routine.
Toulon have released South Africa winger Bryan Habana to play for the Blitzbokke at the Commonwealth Games.
Habana had previously been named in the original squad to compete in Scotland before the club decided to prevent him from participating.
However, Toulon have now announced that the 97-times capped flyer has been released to compete in the tournament before he links up with the Springboks to play in The Rugby Championship.
Schalk Brits is the other big name who won’t be featuring in the competition, after his release was denied by Saracens.
It would seem like Jake White has been listening to and reading the opinion of bloggers on rugby sites. He certainly has a point when during an interview with a New Zealand radio station he mentioned that he also preferred the older versions of the Super Rugby competition.
The majority of the rugby viewing public feel the same way as White and would by no means complain if the tournament is reduced back to the Super 12 or even the Super 14 format.
Jake White is concerned Super Rugby is going down the wrong road as they expand the competition to eighteen teams from 2016′s season.
Juan Smith is set to complete an extraordinary return to Test rugby after being named in South Africa’s squad for a training camp in August, according to Toulon.
Toulon have announced that Smith, along with Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana, have been selected to attend a South African training camp in August.
Smith, who won the Heineken Cup and Top 14 titles with Toulon last season, has been rejuvenated in France after taking an indefinite break from the sport back in 2012 due to a persistent battle with an Achilles injury.
SARU has announced a squad of 55 school boy rugby players to attend the SA Schools trials on Saturday, 26 July at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park, Johannesburg.
The SA Schools trial squad was selected by the national selectors following the conclusion of the Under-18 Coca-Cola Craven Week in Middelburg.
Tabai Matson would hoot with laughter if a Sharks’ insider offered to sell Jake White’s game plans this week.
Crusaders defence coach Matson expects nothing tricky from Sharks coach White in Saturday night’s Super Rugby semifinal and anyone trying to convince him otherwise risks being dispatched with a sharp tap to the temple.
“His [White] team plays to their strengths and they are very clinical with what they do,” Matson says. “They have a few things on the menu and they cook it very well.”
The Eastern Province Kings have signed Henning van der Merwe as their new kicking coach.
EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous, confirmed that Van der Merwe, 28, had been signed until the end of the 2017 season.
The Cell C Sharks squad that has made the long trek to New Zealand to face the Crusaders in the semi final clash in Christchurch on Saturday, is missing some key players.
The Sharks will spend a week in Christchurch preparing for their Super Rugby semifinal against the Crusaders.
“We’ve got some great memories there — a couple of months ago we had a great time,” White said.
“I think it would be disrespectful not to get to New Zealand straight away. I’m old school and I think if you’re going to play in that country you’ve got to live in that country.”
The real Beast roaming around the Super Rugby rugby fields, is Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis.
The bloke next to him at loosehead prop, Tendai Mtawarira, is dubbed “the Beast” who provokes rumbling shows of affection from supporters when he heads off on a run.
His impact, though, is cosmetic compared with Du Plessis.
Torsten van Jaarsveld has been named Free State Cheetahs captain for the upcoming Currie Cup season, the union announced via a press statement on Monday.
The 27-year-old, who can play flank and hooker, will replace Boom Prinsloo who captained the team during last year’s Currie Cup.
With Super Rugby captain Adriaan Strauss expected to be on duty for the Springboks, the Cheetahs have decided to appoint a different captain for the Currie Cup.
The Eastern Province Rugby Referees Society will return to adjudicating Eastern Province Rugby Union club matches with immediate effect, after the EPRU cancelled all club games last weekend over the poor treatment of referees.
Eastern Province Rugby Union President, Cheeky Watson, confirmed that he had met with the referees last week to address their concerns.
The Sharks left for New Zealand early Monday morning. They boarded the plane carrying the hopes of their countless supporters, and the hopes of the nation on their shoulders. According to most naysayers, they might have well forfeited the match and stayed at home.
We have heard the same comments and mumblings before, remember when the Sharks left for the overseas leg of their tour? “No chance, they will never beat the Crusaders in Christchurch”
The Cheetahs have added another exciting backline player to their stocks after securing the services of Pumas fullback Coenie van Wyk.
The 26-year-old, who represented the Lions with aplomb in this year’s Super Rugby competition, will join the Cheetahs after this year’s Currie Cup.
Van Wyk will join the Cheetahs on a two-year deal.
The Waratahs and Crusaders will be heavily favoured to advance to a Sydney final, but the two Vodacom Super Rugby play-off qualifiers played this weekend did breathe some much needed life into a competition that is sometimes accused of being too predictable.
As expected, the home teams did advance to next week’s round of semifinals, but it was a close run thing in both Canberra and Durban. More than that, the quality of rugby produced, and the entertainment value, was just what the doctor would have ordered if the goal of a medical consultation was to find out what could increase interest for the remaining two weeks.
Of the two winning teams, the Brumbies and the Sharks, it is the former who should go into the semifinals feeling most upbeat. They relaxed when they thought they had the game won and the Chiefs showed their championship qualities one last time before eventually conceding their run of success had come to an end by launching a brave, gutsy and classy fightback.
Once condemned to playing catch-up, the Chiefs produced some of their best rugby in a while, and may well have won had they shown just a bit of temperance in their commitment to attack, for it was their tendency to concede penalties in their own half by trying to play too much rugby there that cost them the game.
Former All Black and rugby legend Tana Umaga is open to coaching the Singapore Super Rugby franchise if they win the bid to be one of the expansion teams in 2016.
The Counties Manukau coach has been involved with the Asian country for a few years now, he will coach the Asia Pacific Dragons in there in a game against the Maori All Blacks later this year.
Singapore is currently in a battle with Japan to be one of the teams included in Super Rugby when it increases to an 18-team competition in 2016.
Umaga would be a worthy candidate with his ability to lure players through his name and presence, as such he is already being touted as a front-runner to coach the team.