Super Rugby will get a strong injection of exciting new players in 2014. JEREMY PROOME looks at five of them.
Kolbe burst on to the scene with the SA U20 side during their Junior World Championship defence in France in June this year, exhibiting his lightning-fast footwork and ability to get through the smallest of gaps. He carried his form into the Sevens World Cup in Moscow and Currie Cup, and has been named in the 2014 Stormers squad. Kolbe will undoubtedly find himself on the wing for the Cape side at some point, and while it's a big step up to Super Rugby, his pace will most likely leave experienced players trying to keep up with him.
Another sevens star, Hendricks is set to make his Super Rugby debut with the Cheetahs after opting to put his sevens career on hold. The tall speedster has a natural athletic ability and his lanky proportions (1.89m) do nothing to slow him down. Hendricks will be an exciting runner to watch and the prospect of him linking up with the likes of Willie le Roux and Raymond Rhule is tantalising.
Arguably the best rugby league player in the world, Marshall proved that unpredictability is king by delivering jaw-dropping performances for the Wests Tigers and New Zealand national rugby league side over the past 10 years. Known for his elusive side-step and flamboyant playmaking style, Marshall will bring some excitement and flair to the Blues side, packed full of stars and exciting runners; but whether the 28-year-old adapts to the 15-man game successfully is yet to be seen.
Nadolo’s statistics would lead you to believe that he plays in the front row, but this 130kg, 1.95m Fijian is actually a winger. Nadolo had previously been signed to the Waratahs and was due to play in the 2009 season, but never played a Super Rugby game. He then went to France, and played with Bourgoin from 2010-2011, to Exeter for a short while, and then to Japan, where he played for the Green Rockets. The Crusaders have picked him up for the 2014 season and he’ll likely cause some troublesome times for other wingers during the competition.
Banks had a breakout season for Tasman in this year’s New Zealand Cup, helping his team to win the Championship final against Hawkes Bay and earn promotion to the Premiership. His consistent form saw Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett offer the 24-year-old a Super Rugby contract. Banks’ accurate goal-kicking is his strength, but he also has a great attacking mindset and vision to utilise it. Banks will be at the bottom of the flyhalf pecking order at the Hurricanes, especially with Beauden Barrett’s current form, but he should get his chance come 2014.
Photo: Simon Watts/Getty Images
Bulls fullback Jesse Kriel always backs himself to have a go, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
What we’ve learned
Five lessons from the 15th round of Vodacom Super Rugby, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Duane Vermeulen continues to impress as a player and leader, writes JON CARDINELLI.