Five Players to Watch – Round Two

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JOSH IOANE

 

Having made the step up to international rugby last season, Ioane may have expected he would have a chance to settle in at first five-eighths to develop further. However, Mitch Hunt's arrival changed that and now Ioane has to move out a place. It is not the first time that ploy has been used and, as Dan Carter showed it has worked in reverse. History also shows it can be highly effective as one of the great All Blacks five-eighths Mark Nicholls played many Tests at second five-eighths. It does reduce the crash-bash element asked of many in the role but it could provide useful speed in moving the ball outside. The beneficiaries may well prove to be the outside backs on attack. The other point will be how effective Ioane can be on defence.

 

DAVID HAVILI

 

Havili has stepped up to the plate and handled other backline positions in the past so there is little likelihood of him not being ready for the challenge set for him by Crusaders coach Scott Robertson. It is a left-field call but Robertson has a handy record in that regard and has undoubted faith in Havili's ability. Pressure is always applied to those in the role, they are natural targets given their duties, but there should be an extra edge in the way the Chiefs look to contain Havili's ability to lead the side around the field. A durable customer in all respects, Havili has solidity around him and his ability to respond will go a long way towards enhancing his own reputation and appeal while also helping the Crusaders in their quest for another win in the competition.

KARL TU'INUKUAFE

 

Back from injury concerns that hindered his chances of extending his Test rugby profile last year, Tu'inukuafe looks fitter and sharper than previously. He demonstrated when taking the field at Eden Park last weekend, as a replacement, that he was quicker around the field and in being able to take the ball up. That makes him even more effective than when at his best before his injury. But his inspirational qualities should help lift the relatively young side who face a big task against a Waratahs side stung by defeat last week. The scrum will be important against a strong front row combination in Tom Robertson, Harry Johnson-Holmes and hooker Robbie Abel. A strong base will be vital for the Blues and Tu'inukuafe is central to that requirement.

 

JACKSON GARDEN-BACHOP

 

Offshore for their first two games, the Hurricanes have almost been a case of out of sight, out of mind. Going into the season it was clear covering for the loss of first five-eighths Beauden Barrett was going to be a key factor. But their stinging loss to the Stormers, especially being held scoreless, has clearly impacted on them and it doesn't help that the Jaguares looked so impressive in taking apart the Lions in Buenos Aires. Garden-Bachop has been entrusted with starting duties to see if he can provide the spark the Hurricanes so seriously need if they are to be competitive with a clearly confident home back division. The firepower is evident outside him but as always it will be the quality of ball he can present that will be crucial for the Hurricanes as they look for winner's points offshore.

SANELE NOHAMBA

 

This Sharks halfback may not yet be in the starting XV for his side but look out for his arrival off the bench in Dunedin. He is quick fire material and capable of wafting through the slightest of gaps as he demonstrated towards the end of last week's win over the Bulls. Louis Schreuder is an experienced campaigner in the starting halfback role for the side but Nohamba is another of the rising class of players who are making their mark in the South African game and should he get the chance on Friday he will relish the fast and dry conditions under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

 

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