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Friday, February 23, 2018
Super Rugby

Super 15 Rugby: How will the South African teams fare in 2018?

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The new year has been cracked open like an ice cold beer and I bet you can’t wait to get that 2017 room temperature & last bit of foam taste out of your mouth, with a fresh-cold-burn that eventually turns you into a rugga Martin Luther King Jr who dreams that one day, all South African teams will be seen as equals by New Zealand teams.

But do we dare dream after two years of what seems to be a bad M. Night Shyamalan rugby project?

The so called “fat” has been trimmed from the bulky Super 18 and now it only weighs in at a slim Super 15. Now that the two dismissed South African franchises, the Kings and Cheetahs, moved on to bigger and more northern hemisphere things, there won’t be a lot of hiding place for the remaining local teams on the log; they can now end up in the basement with the Jaguares and Sunwolves if they just try and stay alive at ground level.
In the last two years only the Lions have performed at enough of a threatening level and reached the finals on both occasions, but this year there are quite a few changes at the Jozi side, the biggest one being Johan Ackerman’s absence in the coaching box.
The Stormers, once again, flattered only to deceive and will look to rebuild again after losing key players like high-tackle-milking specialist, Cheslin Kolbe, to European rugby, and Robert du Preez Jr to his father.
The Sharks showed real good signs, but also delivered what was arguably the worst performance of Super Rugby 2017 when they drew with the Rebels at home in a vomit-inducing display of “rugby”.
The Bulls have become the West Indies of Super Rugby; a once-feared blue machine is now a stepping stone to French rugby contracts, making bad hair salon decisions and being an unstoppable Currie Cup bridesmaid bicycle. The Bulls, however, do have John Mitchell as coach now and we can only hope that he rebuilds the Loftus empire and brings back the pride and results.
Now that I have managed to piss off everyone, let me stick my neck out and try and predict the near future of our South African Super 15 Rugby sides…

Sharks

Coach Robert Du Preez looks like a real old-school type coach and that might be exactly what the team needs. The Sharks also made a few smart buys, like Robert du Preez Jr, who’ll join his dad and two Johnny Bravo brothers at the Durban franchise. From what I heard, they also bought the most in-form wing in world rugby, Makazole Mapimpi. He can go to bed and wake up behind a try line. I feel the Sharks will be the top SA side this year. Remember that real quick wing from the Stormers injury wilderness, Leolin Zas? Well they bought him too, apparently.

Blue Bulls

Look, the Bulls has talent, no one can dispute that. But has Mitchell got the glue to fix this team? Only time will tell. I’m betting they are not going to bring back a Super Rugby title this year, but for the sake of SA rugby, I hope they lift their game and give the overseas teams hell.

Stormers

They bought a few Cheetahs players and much like a gunshot to the stomach, it is not sitting well with most of the Stormers fans. Lets be honest, Trellidoor will never name a range of door after Raymond Rhule or Sergeal Petersen and fans are really worried that their defense will really be exposed at the back. I feel the Stormers coaching can improve both players if given the time, but how much time will they need? I’m expecting, at best, a middle of the road performance from the Stormers. But again,I hope I’m wrong.

Lions

Again, the big loss is coach Ackerman. He even took his son, like the man doesn’t even want any of his DNA left behind. Elton Jantjies is also going through as low a patch as a Steinhoff share. A big positive for the Jozi side, however, will be the Lions and Springbok captain, Warren Whiteley, who should be back to lead the side during the 2018 campaign. As it stands, I just don’t see the Lions reaching the final again, not this year, but again, I hope I’m wrong.
How do you see this Super Rugby season panning out for the South African teams? Let us know in the comments below.

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