The SA Rugby magazine team identify what they would love to see come out of this weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby matches.
Craig Lewis (editor) is hoping the Stormers and Sharks continue to lead the South African charge.
There was understandable concern leading into this season that there could be a World Cup ‘hangover’, with a number of top Springboks heading abroad and depleting the Super Rugby player stocks available to local sides.
It has been a difficult start to the campaigns of the Vodacom Bulls and Lions, but the Sharks and Stormers have superbly maintained that SA rugby winning feeling from last year.
Having already downed the Highlanders and Rebels on tour, the Sharks will put themselves in a powerful position if they can overcome the Reds this Saturday before returning to Durban for a run of home games.
The Stormers have made the most of a favourable schedule and settled squad on a four-match winning run, and it does appear that the two coastal rivals will be strong contenders for SA conference honours this year.
It’s great news for South African rugby, especially considering both teams are playing an impressive, well-balanced brand of effective rugby that combines both brains and brawn.
Jon Cardinelli (chief writer) wants the South African collective to complete a clean sweep against foreign opposition.
The Vodacom Bulls got agonisingly close to breaking their duck last week. If not for a last-minute penalty goal by Blues flyhalf Otere Black, the Bulls would have registered their first win in 2020 and South Africa’s teams would’ve finished the round with a perfect three-from-three record.
Is it unrealistic to expect a clean sweep this weekend? The Lions have enjoyed success against the Waratahs in Australia in the past. The Sharks should fancy their chances against the Reds, while the Stormers should be too strong for the Blues at Newlands. The Bulls will be going all out to prove a point when they host the Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld.
I suspect that a young Lions side will struggle in Australia. I hope that they will prove me wrong and that all four SA teams will record a win.
Dylan Jack (staff writer) hopes Jamba Ulengo provides a reminder of his ability.
Friday’s match between the Lions and Waratahs will be a special one for Ulengo as he is set to make his first Vodacom Super Rugby start since 2018.
It has been a long road back for the 30-year-old, whose once-promising career has been riddled with knee injuries. It is a well-known story now that during his time with the Bulls, Ulengo visited a Swedish doctor after suffering from patellar tendinopathy, more commonly known as jumper’s knee.
Ulengo found himself in the rugby wilderness after not having his contract extended at the Bulls and in 2019 he was playing Rugby Challenge games for the Free State XV.
However, now that he is back in Super Rugby, Ulengo will be keen to show the form that made him a Springbok in 2016. There is no better place to start than shining in Sydney.
*Follow us on our new Instagram journey by clicking here
Mariette Adams (staff writer) wants Nafi Tuitavake to help the Vodacom Bulls get a maiden victory.
The Bulls are on a barren three-game losing streak, which they are desperate to snap. They hosts the Jaguares at Loftus this week and the result is either going to be a stunning upset win over the Test-laden Argentinian team or a blowout defeat.
Despite criticism from far and wide over his selection policy, coach Pote Human has stuck to his guns and inserted Morne Steyn as the starting flyhalf again, with Manie Libbok providing cover off the bench. But in a surprising move – albeit injury enforced – he picked the New Zealand-born Tongan international Tuitavake at outside centre.
The Bulls backline has been static since the start of the season and I’m hoping the inclusion of Tuitavake will spark the backs to life. It is a much-needed switch they simply have to make, if they are to compete with the hard-running Jaguares backline players.
I’m hoping we get to see the Bulls finally produce a powerful 80-minute performance to get the desired the result and kick-start their campaign.
Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets