Super Rugby predictions …

At last she is here. And we get going with a game that could well be the final game of the tournament as well! Spicy stuff… Pity we do not get to see my love child Ma’a Nonu in game one for the Blues though … Ah well, at least we have Piri Weepu coming off the bench …

The tournament is 24 weeks long this year … That is 2 weeks short of half a bloody year! I wonder how excited we will be in 2 or 3 months time … Ah well, who I am I to be the “Negatori ghost rider” … Let’s start with the “Yabba Dabba Doo” that comes with week one of Super Rugby …

And for my sins, I am going to make my prediction public … Again … Taking on the likes of The General, Corne Krige, Joel Stransky, Gcobani Bobo, Chris Masdin and AJ Venter in the “Legends” SuperBru pool, and of course, fellow Front Row Grunters in the FRG Super Pool. To play along head to The Pool name is “Front Row Grunt”, and the Pool code “hermused” … May the best freak win …

Righto, off the fence …


Blues v Crusaders, Auckland – 08:35
Referee: Chris Pollock
Assistants: Glen Jackson, Mike Fraser
TMO: Vinny Munro

Two relatively unknown flyhalves, one would traditionally then go with the team that has the strongest front row, and that would be the Saders, no doubt – yes, I am a card carrying member of the Franks brothers supporters club. But the Saders are notoriously slow starters. Could go either way, though …

My prediction: Blues by 4

Blues: 15. Isaia Toeava, 14. David Raikuna, 13. Rene Ranger, 12. Benson Stanley, 11. Rudi Wulf, 10. Michael Hobbs, 9. Alby Mathewson, 8. Jerome Kaino, 7. Daniel Braid, 6. Chris Lowrey, 5. Ali Williams, 4. Anthony Boric, 3. Charlie Faumuina, 2. Keven Mealamu (captain), 1. Tom McCartney
Substitutes: 16. Pauliasi Manu, 17. Tevita Mailau, 18. Brad Mika, 19. Luke Braid, 20. Piri Weepu, 21. Hadleigh Parkes, 22. Sherwin Lee Stowers

Crusaders: 15. Tom Marshall, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Robert Fruean, 12. Ryan Crotty, 11. Israel Dagg, 10. Tyler Bleyendaal, 9. Andy Ellis, 8. Kieran Read (captain), 7. Matt Todd, 6. George Whitelock, 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Tom Donnelly, 3. Ben Franks, 2. Quentin MacDonald, 1. Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16. Corey Flynn, 17. Owen Franks, 18. Luke Romano, 19. Luke Whitelock, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Patrick Osborne, 22. Adam Whitelock


Brumbies v Force, Canberra – 10:40
Referee: Bryce Lawrence

Big day for Jake White as he makes his return to top flight coaching for the first time since RWC 2007, with Ikey Dave Wessels as his defence guru. Force will miss Cameron Shepherd, but they play well away from home and I think the Brumbies will take a while to gel.

My prediction: Force by 6

Brumbies: 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Jesse Mogg, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Ita Vaea, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Leon Power, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander
Substitutes: 16 Anthony Hegerty, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Scott Fardy, 19 Michael Hooper, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Zack Holmes, 22 Joe Tomane

Force: 15. Alifeleti Mafi, 14. Nick Cummins, 13. Winston Stanley, 12. Rory Sidey, 11. Napolioni Nalaga, 10. James Stannard, 9. Brett Sheehan, 8. Ben McCalman, 7. David Pocock (captain), 6. Matthew Hodgson, 5. Nathan Sharpe, 4. Toby Lynn, 3. Salesi Ma’afu, 2. Nathan Charles, 1. Pekahou Cowan
Substitutes: 16. Elvis Taione, 17. Kieran Longbottom, 18. Phoenix Battye, 19. Angus Cottrell, 20. Justin Turner, 21. Ben Seymour, 22. Samu Wera


Bulls v Sharks, Pretoria – 19:10
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistants: Pro Legoete, Tiaan Jonker
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee

Does it come better than this as a starter? To my mind the two sides that will fight it out for the conference crown. Chiliboy vs Bismarck, Jannie vs Dean, Kanko vs Pierre, Hougaard vs Michalak, Steyn vs Lambie, Sadie vs Pieterse … Almost juicier than a rump steak whipped off the coals a smidgeon early! To be brutally honest, I have absolutely no idea which way this one is going to go … So going with the home side …

My prediction: Bulls by 7

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jaques Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 JJ Engelbrecht

Sharks: 15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Louis Ludik, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Tim Whitehead, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Frederic Michalak, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Marcell Coetzee, 6. Keegan Daniel (captain), 5. Anton Bresler, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Dale Chadwick
Substitutes: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Ross Skeate, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Meyer Bosman, 22. Paul Jordaan



Chiefs v Highlanders, Hamilton – 08:35
Referee: Jonathon White
Assistants: Vinny Munro, Nick Briant
TMO: Bryce Lawrence

The clash of the inconsistent. Both teams can beat any side at their best, yet lose to the worst side in the tournament just as easily … The big question has to be whether the arrival of the great SBW will change that for the Chiefs? Pretty nifty center combo with Kahui, and Cruden is as talented as they come …

My prediction: Chiefs by 9

Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tim Nanai-Williams, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (capt), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Arizona Taumalolo.
Substitutes: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Toby Smith, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Tawera Kerr- Barlow, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

Highlanders: 15 Ben R Smith, 14 Buxton Popoalii, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 John Hardie, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Nick Crosswell, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Jamie MacKintosh (captain)
Substitutes: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Culum Retallick, 19 James Haskell, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Lima Sopoaga, 22 Kurt Baker


Waratahs v Reds, Sydney – 10:40
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistants: Ian Smith, Angus Gardner
TMO: George Ayoub

So how will the defending champs do without the ab fab Quade Cooper? They still have Genia and Ioane, but I think they might take a while to get going. No Barnes for the Tahs, which is a big blow, but Super Sarel and big Cliff Palu should make for a magic pairing at the base of the scrum.

My prediction: Tahs by 5

Waratahs: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Brackin Karauria-Henry, 10 Daniel Halangahu (captain), 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Dean Mumm, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Substitutes: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Lopeti Timani, 19 Jono Jenkins, 20 Brendan McKibbin, 21 Bernard Foley, 22 Nathan Trist.

Reds: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (capt), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Ben Daley.
Substitutes: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Van Humphries, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Jono Lance.


Stormers v Hurricanes, Cape Town – 17:05
Referee: Marius Jonker

The game the Capies missed out on last year – one of the many reasons I don’t like the extended format, but this time sans Nonu and Weepu. Smith vs Habana will make for good viewing, and if the home boy can survive this encounter, there might be a future for him at center. I am yet to be convinced. I also prefer Vermeulen at 8 with a fetcher on the side of the scrum, and this is no tournament winning front row. But that lock partnership is sensational, and their battle with Eaton and Thrush will go a way to deciding the encounter …

My prediction: Stormers by 9

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Bryan Habana, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Schalk Burger (captain), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Marcel Brache

Hurricanes: 15 André Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tristan Moran
Substitutes: 16 Motu Motu’u, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Brad Shields, 20 TJ Perenara, 21 Dan Kirkpatrick, 22 Charlie Ngatai.


Lions v Cheetahs, Johannesburg – 19:10
Referee: Mark Lawrence
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johann Meuwesen

Goosen vs Jantjies … Brussow vs Grobbelaar … Nel vs Van Rensburg … Both sides potentially playing for their Super Rugby survival … This should get the brandy flowing. It’s a real Currie Cup game, and that should give the home side the edge, but my substantial gut says the bookies have this one slightly wrong.

My prediction: Cheetahs by 3

Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies le Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 James Kamana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden/ Hendrik Roodt, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse/ CJ van der Linde, 18 Hendrik Roodt / Stephan Greeff, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Butch James, 22 Lionel Mapoe.

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Dusty Noble, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Lappies Labuschagné/Philip van der Walt, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Pieter van Zyl, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Willie le Roux

Get that dentist appointment for Friday morning sorted people … And you are going to need some serious pink to eyeball both the Friday and Saturday night games, but I do not see that being too tough in weekend one … Enjoy


  1. Hi Tank, the Hurricanes are hosting a training session tonight at 18:00 at UWC for schools’ coaches. I coach at a high school and quite a few of us are going through – should be interesting. I’ll let you know if it was worthwhile – I guess they won’t give away any secrets though !!

    1. Ha Ha … Fair chirp, but realistically, you only need the Friday picks on Thursday … The Saturday picks can be entered on Friday … and often the Saturday teams are not announced by Thursday. For example, Highlanders still not announced …

  2. Tank, I am sure the Whitelock’s in the Crusaders line up are brothers. Is this not a Super rugby record of 4 brothers in the same starting squad? Possibly some world record in any rugby competition.

  3. Hi Tank

    I’m with you on Vermeulen at 8 and not 7 ! When Rohan Kitshoff played for Province last season, he impressed me quite a bit as a fetcher. Don’t you think he deserves an opportunity ?
    Like I said I went to UWC last night. Mark Hammett and Alamah Ieremia (spelling?) demonstrated a couple of drills – not too bad. Hammett seems to be quite concerned about the breakdown: it seems that it will be refereed more severe than last year. If there is any doubt that the arriving supporting player is not supporting his own body weight, he’ll be penalised.
    They demonstrated a few fairly easy but effective drills. It must be nice to have so much time to practise those drills. Us as amateur coaches have to cram so much into a session and sometimes you tend to try and do too much during one practice session. Ieremia impressed me quite a bit.

    1. Well the refs certainly went hard on the players not supporting there own body weight … Breakdowns were penalty central … Great re those guys showing you a few drills and spot on re the time … With only 2 sessions per week, it’s often just the basics that can be covered at amateur level ….

  4. 2 from 5 … Shocking start to the season for me … Consoling myself with the knowledge that every single game could have gone the other way … Most games tighter than a grass hopper’s hamstring

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