The SA Rugby magazine team identify what they would love to see come out of this weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby matches.
Jon Cardinelli (chief writer) hopes the Sharks draw first blood in Australasia.
While the Springboks won the 2019 World Cup away from home, their overseas record between 2016 and 2018 left a lot to be desired. The Super Rugby sides struggled in Australasia and Argentina during this period, too.
It’s high time that all South African teams started winning overseas on a consistent basis. Unfortunately, the Lions began their campaign in the worst possible way when they lost heavily in Argentina.
The Sharks are touring early this season, and while that is a challenge it could also be viewed as an opportunity to lay down a marker for the franchise – and for South African teams as a collective. A win against the Highlanders may well prove a catalyst for a prosperous campaign.
Craig Lewis (editor) hopes to see the Stormers halfbacks continue to shine behind a powerful pack.
Something that has perhaps been overlooked at the start of this season is the fact that Herschel Jantjies and Damian Willemse could have the perfect platform to further come of age this season.
Although the Stormers suffered a double blow in the opening game following long-term injuries to Bongi Mbonambi and Siya Kolisi, they still boast one of the most impressive packs in the competition.
It’s this foundation up front that should allow Jantjies and Willemse to thrive off front-foot ball. The halfback duo already showed the benefits of playing behind a dominant pack after delivering a dazzling display against the Hurricanes last weekend.
And if the Stormers forwards can achieve ascendancy against the Vodacom Bulls this Saturday, we could well be in for another exciting performance of the Jantjies-Willemse show.
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Mariette Adams (staff writer) wants Scarra Ntubeni to make the most of his opportunity.
Nitubeni has long been the backup hooker at the Stormers. He joined the union 10 years ago and yet for most of his stay, he has had to settle as the second in command, behind the likes of Tiaan Liebenberg and Deon Fourie and more recently Bongi Mbonambi.
But with Mbonambi suffering an injury in the Stormers’ opening game of the season against the Hurricanes, the door has been opened for Ntubeni to get a rare extended run as the first-choice No 2.
With Mbonambi confirmed to miss up to eight weeks, Stormers coach John Dobson will call on Ntubeni’s experience both on and off the field. Because Ramone Samuels is still out with a career-threatening knee injury and the other three hookers in the squad – Chad Solomon, Dan Jooste and Schalk Erasmus – are young and inexperienced, Ntubeni’s importance to the Stormers’ cause has skyrocketed.
This is his chance to make a play for owning that No 2 jersey this season. As it is, it doesn’t get much tougher than starting against the Bulls. I hope Ntubeni produces a blinding performance against the old enemy at Newlands to remind everyone of his star qualities.
Dylan Jack (staff writer) hopes Sanele Nohamba continues to push for a starting spot.
Nohamba made his Super Rugby debut off the bench against the Bulls last weekend, but in typical fashion made a telling impact as he scored the decisive try to ensure the Sharks of an opening-round win.
The 21-year-old made his mini-breakthrough last year as he went from playing as an impact player for the Junior Springboks (behind franchise teammate Jaden Hendrikse) to starting for the Sharks during their Currie Cup campaign.
He now has the opportunity to push senior scrumhalf Louis Schreuder for a place in the Sharks’ starting lineup.
With as many scrumhalves as there are in the Sharks squad, Nohamba will have to be patient but take his opportunities when he gets them. If he continues along his current trajectory, a chance to prove his worth in the No 9 jersey cannot be too far away.
Andre Huisamen (staff writer) wants the Lions to hit form against the Reds.
A hefty defeat by the Jaguares emphasised the transition phase the Lions are going to experience in this year’s competition. The Johannesburg team plays two consecutive matches at home, starting this weekend against the Reds, before they head to Australasia for what will indeed be a testing tour.
It is therefore important that they gather as much points as possible from the matches at Ellis Park. The Reds will be bargaining on James O’Connor to spark their backline to life but the Lions should have enough firepower up front.
Despite the loss last weekend, Marcus Schoeman and Vincent Tshituka played pretty well in the loose-forward combination with Len Massyn.
If the Lions can get them and the rest of the forwards to click, then the Reds will have a difficult afternoon.
Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets