As we all know it’s a huge year ahead with the World Cup putting pressure on players to perform. I imagine it’s also been pretty challenging for coaches to manage the compulsory rest that All Blacks players have had to take in the opening weeks.
I reckon we’ve seen some quality rugby so far this season, the Crusaders and Hurricanes have been playing some good rugby. It was a difficult start for the Chiefs, Highlanders and Blues, but the Blues have started to come right, winning their last four games on the trot. The Chiefs have bounced back as well so there is some good competition going on in that New Zealand conference.
?? How many of these players would you put in your form XV? Well now you can select your very own form #SuperRugbyXV. Make sure you watch tonight's @crusadersrugby v @Highlanders clash so you know who to put in your form XV!There are a few players who have impressed me so far this season. Will Jordan from the Crusaders – his pace and footwork create real trouble for the opposition. Reiko Ioane and Tom Robinson out of the Blues. Robinson is everywhere on the park and his work rate is outstanding, also Ardie Savea has been on fire for the Hurricanes. But I’ve been most impressed with Crusaders outside back George Bridge. I’d be stoked to see him go to Japan later this year.
There seems to be a lot of noise around Ma’a Nonu and whether he should be in the All Blacks mix for the World Cup. Obviously, he’s a great player and he’s been impressive for the Blues the last couple of weeks. But he has a lot of quality competition ahead of him. If there are injuries in the midfield though, and they needed to call upon someone, I wouldn’t rule him out.
Speaking of the Blues, it really looks like the new management and Leon McDonald have come in and started to make some good gains. They’ve got good players and to have someone like Sonny Bill Williams start on the bench and then come on shows they have a bit of depth. I’d like to see Ma’a Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams together in the midfield at some stage.
We’ve got two exciting local derbies this weekend, with the Crusaders taking on the Highlanders in Christchurch and the Blues travelling down the line to Hamilton to face the Chiefs. I can’t look past the Crusaders on Friday night, I think they’ll be too good for the Highlanders who have been hit by a number of injuries. And I reckon the Chiefs will have the edge over the Blues at home.
I’m looking forward to seeing how those two matches play out, although I’m not sure how much Super Rugby I’ll be able to watch this weekend, because I’ll be at the Black Ferns training camp in Christchurch. We haven’t had a camp in the South Island since 2017, so it will be great to gather as a group there this weekend and it gives some of the community coaches a chance to come and have a look.
There is so much to look forward to and celebrate in women's rugby in 2019!
We’ll be training at Lincoln University and on Sunday we’ll be having a training game with the wider squad on Field 1, from 10am. Everyone is welcome to come down and watch. It will be a great opportunity for people to see some of the best players in the world in action. We’d love to see you there.