Five prickly posturings for #SuperRugby Round 5

Returning Liam Gill can add a presence at the Reds' breakdown that hasn’t been missing, per se, but has certainly been diluted in the opening month of the competition. Image: ABC Grandstand

Returning Liam Gill can add a presence at the Reds’ breakdown that hasn’t been missing, per se, but has certainly been diluted in the opening month of the competition. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: Is Round 5 the point in the first half of the season where teams start making statements of intent?

Teams in the top half of the table can open a gap on those in the bottom half, while those stuck around mid-table can stay in touch with the leaders. No-one can win the comp in Round 5, but another loss in Round 5 might create – or underline existing – doubt about a team’s credentials. The prickly posturings, then:

  1. Can the Brumbies really avoid the whole boardroom circus?
  2. Is this the biggest game ever for the Rebels?
  3. Are the Hurricanes properly back?
  4. Can Liam Gill and James Slipper bring the Reds’ much-needed spark? and..
  5. Is this the weekend for the expansion teams?

Five curly questions for #SuperRugby Round 4

The Melbourne Rebels have travelled the best part of thirty thousand kilometres, and spent upwards of forty hours in transit in just the first four weeks of the competition. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Melbourne Rebels have travelled the best part of thirty thousand kilometres, and spent upwards of forty hours in transit in just the first four weeks of the competition. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: We’re a month in already, a coach has been sacked, and already, some teams have racked up frequent flyer miles in the tens of thousands.

Super Rugby Round 4 provides us with a full bracket of nine games, among them the first sighting of an Australian side in Tokyo, as well as the first sighting of an Argentinean side in Buenos Aires.

But it also presents as good a time as any to start passing judgements and ask a few tricky questions heading into what will be a weekend chock-full of rugby, namely:

  1. Can Peter Grant really carry on with the Western Force’s expansive desires?
  2. Surely the Highlanders couldn’t play the same card twice?
  3. Tokyo: will limited fitness or an already heavy travel schedule win out?
  4. Rebuild Rumble: stability of the Reds or variation of the Blues? and..
  5. Do the Brumbies just need to procreate in Cape Town?

Beauty in the eyes of the remote-holder

Luke Morahan scores against the Reds in Brisbane, in a match often since referred to as 'unwatchable'. Image: ABC Grandstand

Western Force winger Luke Morahan scores against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane, in a match often since referred to as ‘unwatchable’. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: That old “unwatchable Aussie derbies” chestnut raised its head again over the weekend. I’d say this was an annual event, but it’s a bit more regular than that these days. Generally speaking, whenever two Australian Super Rugby teams face off, someone somewhere won’t have been impressed with it.

There’s any number of reasons why the ‘unwatchable’ tag is applied to local games, but mostly commonly it boils down to two main explanations: underwhelming skill levels, which is certainly evident at times, or the broader and completely subjective claim of not being entertaining enough.

And all that then begs the question: what exactly are we hoping to see when watching two Australian teams in action?

Egos to the side: Reds’ Nick Stiles says co-interim head coaches will work

New Reds’ ‘co-interim head coach’ Nick Stiles was bullish when I spoke to him this week about the dual-coach system working for the rest of 2016. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: It’s fair to say it’s been a rough week at Ballymore. The fallout from the Queensland Reds’ lacklustre performance against the Western Force last weekend could not have been more spectacular: a coach sacked, the CEO announcing his plans to step down, and now five changes to the starting to side to face the Rebels in Melbourne.

But in a week where they might’ve been excused for circling the wagons, the Reds know they have to get on the front foot and move forward. And on that front, it was great to speak with new co-interim head coach, Nick Stiles, after he landed in Melbourne for their must-win clash on Saturday night.

In a frank discussion, Stiles spoke of how the Reds plans haven’t really changed even though they have lost their “figurehead” in Richard Graham, that there certainly are risks with a dual-coaching model, and just how he and Matt O’Connor can start the Reds’ turnaround in 2016…