Folau, Nadolo, Phipps, Hooper, Messam, Potgieter, du Plessis: if only the other eight positions were so easy to pick…
ESPNscrum.com: So here’s a tough ask: “just name your Team of the Season, and we’ll run it in the lead-up to the Final,” my editor suggests to me. Note the leading ‘just’ before the real killer, ‘name you Team of the Season’ – classic case of trying to downplay an obvious difficulty. Well played, Ed…
Nevertheless, after several weeks of serious thought I have been able to come up with fifteen players that really impressed me this year. In most positions there was a standout candidate, but in a few others – namely inside centre, no.8, and the props, it was a genuinely difficult choice and I would image these will be the source of most debate.
In all positions though, there were many worthy names and there will be notable mentions along the way…
The Waratahs celebrate Bernard Foley’s 76th minute try in the Semi-Final on Saturday night. Image: ABC Grandstand
The Roar: I have been genuinely surprised, since the Waratahs won through to the Super Rugby Final, to read and hear suggestion that Michael Cheika’s team will start the decider as anything other than favourites.
The Waratahs finished the season in top spot at the end of the regular season, scored the most tries by some margin, and conceded the second fewest number in the competition after the preliminary matches. They’ve comfortably been the best team in the competition in this back half of the season, too, and go into the Final on an eight-game winning streak.
So why aren’t the Waratahs overwhelming favourites already? I explore all the reasons why they should be, today on The Roar…
“…there was none better than Sydney’s new cult hero, South African import Jacques Potgieter, who literally threw himself into rucks for eighty minutes. Some of the legality was probably questionable.” Image: Glenn Nicholls/NSW Waratahs
ESPNscrum.com: And then there were two. The 2014 Super Rugby Finalists have been decided, and Australia will host just its fourth final in the nineteen years of the competition. For the Waratahs, this coming weekend represents their third attempt at winning a maiden title, having lost both previous appearances to the team they’ll host. The Crusaders’ presence in the last game of the season is already the stuff of Super Rugby legend.
Along with the weekly Scrum5 podcast, here are the Super Rugby talking points from the Super Rugby Semi-Finals:
- Sharks’ one Christchurch performance came two months too early;
- Crusaders enjoy a Finals Series training run;
- The Semi that deserved to be the decider;
- Brumbies can hold their heads high, and
- Worthy Finalists set for a Super Rugby record crowd.
“White timed his pass to Mogg beautifully, and Mogg burnt Aki on the outside with ease. Coleman’s inside run from behind started around about now, too, and as Mogg came back inside to engage Cruden in cover, Coleman was on his inside to scoot away…”
ESPNscrum.com: When the Brumbies were confirmed as the Waratahs’ Semi-Final opponent for Saturday night, memories of recent clashes rightly ignored the Round 17 meeting in Sydney between the sides, for the simple fact the Brumbies were missing upwards of a dozen players.
A common train of thought is that Kurtley Beale’s short kicking game might be a way of counteracting the Brumbies’ rush defence, and it could well be. But the Tahs will need to be aware that apparent space is not the same at actual space, as the Chiefs learned the hard way last weekend…