Super15 – Our Predictions

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With Super rugby a mere day away – and your inbox again alive with SuperBru pick reminders – we thought this would be a good time to get into the various teams and talk about their chances of holding the trophy aloft in June.

If you’re anything like us – making picks during the first week or two can be tricky so we’re here to help!

We’ll start with our least favourite:

Australian Conference

1. Rebels

The newest team in the Super15 – the Rebels are generally accustomed to the bottom of the Super15 log and while they ‘have their eye on their first victory on foreign soil’ against the Crusaders this weekend – that sounds like the kind of empty fighting talk we’ve come to expect from an Australian outfit.

Strengths: Unpredictable (this doesn’t help for SuperBru picks)

Weakness: Defense – they are often called the Rabble or Rubble

Key player: Scott Higginbotham

Prediction: Bottom 4

2. Western Force

I’ll admit that I quite fancied the Force’s chances if they managed to muscle their way into the playoffs and while they eventually did – they didn’t last long. Will it be any different this year? Will they go all the way? Will the #SeaOfBlue lift them to victory on the #ForceField? It’s unlikely.

Strengths: Defence, particularly at the rucks

Weaknesses: Lack of real stars in their roster

Key player: Nick “honeybadger” Cummins

Prediction: Top half of the table

3. Brumbies

Coached by former Springbok dream killer, Stephen Larkham, the Brumbies are a quality side with a host of quality players and they can be relied on to pose a threat this year.

Strengths: A winning pedigree

Weaknesses: Consistency

Key players: David Pocock/Tevita Kuridrani

Prediction: Semi finalists

4. Reds

The Reds’ showing in Super rugby, since winning it in 2011, is unfortunate. After being crowned champions in 2011, they came 3rd in 2012, 5th in 2013 and 13th in 2014 winning only 4 games. What does 2015 hold for them? We predict a slight improvement but nothing major.

Strengths: Team is littered with astute tacticians

Weaknesses: Inconsistent performances by key men

Key players: Look out for the return of bad boy James “Justin Bieber” ‘o Connor.

Prediction: Bottom half of the table

5. Waratahs

The current trophy holders – many expect the ‘Tahs to be the team to beat in 2015 too. We’re not so sure though. While they haven’t really had any significant changes in player personnel – their coach has since become the Wallaby coach too and in a World Cup year – how focused will Cheika be on winning this tournament? Hmmm, only time will tell.

Strengths: Largely the same team as last year

Weaknesses: A potentially unfocused coach

Star player: Kurtley Beale

Prediction: Semi-finalists

New Zealand conference

6. Highlanders

The Highlanders squeaked into the playoffs last year off the back of a Super rugby season featuring the most points (425) and the most tries (42). Lesson here is that if you can score tries – you can make your way into the playoffs.

Strengths: Landers often display reckless abandon with ball in hand

Weaknesses: Landers often display reckless abandon with ball in hand

Star players: The Smiths – both Ben and Aaron

Prediction: Bottom half of the table

7. Hurricanes

Similar to the ‘Landers the ‘Canes can score points from just about anywhere and they have in the past. Despite that, and in stark contrast to our point above, they find it perennially difficult to make the playoffs. Will this be the year they get it right?

Strengths: Quality backs

Weaknesses: Too inconsistent to make playoffs

Star players: Beauden Barret and Julian Savea

Prediction: Top half of the table

8. Blues

Another dangerous team – the Blues are capable of beating anyone on their day. The problem is that they are also capable of losing to anyone on their day. For the 2015 season, the Auckland outfit has lost a host of players like Ma’a Nonu and Piri Weepu and you’d imagine with them – their chances of being competitive in 2015.

Strengths: Speedy backs

Weaknesses: Lost some key players

Star player: Jimmy Cowan

Prediction: Bottom 4

9. Crusaders

An outfit of undeniable pedigree – the ‘Saders are always a safe bet for making the playoffs. Despite winning in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 – haven’t tasted Super rugby success since 2008 and they will be hungry to change that in 2015.

Strengths: They just know how to win when it counts

Weaknesses: Slow starters

Star players: Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Izzy Dagg

Prediction: Playoffs

10. Chiefs

The Chiefs hoisted the trophy in 2012 and 2013 and with Sonny Bill Williams returning to their ranks again in 2015, my money is on them to do the same this year.

Strengths: A star studded outfit

Weaknesses: None from where I’m sitting

Star players: Sonny Bill Williams, Same Cane

Prediction: Finalists

South African conference

11. Lions

Like West Indies in cricket or France in international rugby, the Lions are a team capable of flattening any team when they are good. But then when they are bad, they are woeful. 2014 was a good year for them, returning to Super rugby and winning 7 of their 16 games. They’ll want to build on that this year.

Strengths: Unpredictability

Weaknesses: Prone to letting the wheels come off their season

Star players: Howard Mnisi, Marnitz Boshoff

Prediction: Bottom 4

12. Cheetahs

The Cheetahs’ squad has seen quite a bit of movement during the off season and the biggest casualty would no doubt be Adriaan Strauss. A tireless worker, Strauss would pick himself up every week and always give it a proper go but no, unfortunately, he’ll be doing that for the Bulls.

Strengths: Their stadium is often packed with attractive women

Weaknesses: They’re a confidence team and once they lose a few – they lose it proper.

Star players: Cornal Hendricks, Willie Britz, Willie Le Roux

Prediction: Bottom 4

13. Bulls

The Bulls probably have the best track record in Super Rugby and their preseason demolition of English top club Saracens allude to another good year for them. They have a good batch of players in important positions but will it be their year? Only time will tell.

Strengths: A 1000 kg scrum

Weaknesses: Can be one dimensional

Star players: Adriaan Strauss, Jacques Du Plessis and Pierre Spies (not),

Prediction: Playoffs

14. Sharks

Under Jake White’s leadership – the Sharks made the playoffs after topping the pool for a large majority of the season before bowing out to the formidable Crusaders. Jake is out, Gary Gold is in as a director of rugby role and the Super rugby season lays ahead of them – with pundits regarding them as SA’s likeliest trophy challenger.

Strengths: Great coaching talent in Gary Gold and Brenden Venter

Weaknesses: Tend to lose important must win games

Star players: Marcell Coetzee, Thomas Du Toit, Frans Steyn

Prediction: Playoffs

15. Stormers

The Cape side had a torrid season last season. Yes, they had a horror fixture list, yes they had an injury crisis of note but those are all excuses and they just weren’t good enough. Will this year be any different? Their draw is easier, they have a new game plan and a new captain – let’s see if they can turn their fortunes around.

Strengths: Sublime speed and skill in the back three

Weaknesses: An injury hoodoo.

Star players: Cheslin Kolbe, Juan De Jongh, Duane Vermeulen

Prediction: Playoffs (hopefully I know but #IAmAStormer)


There you have it? Agree? Disagree? Hit us with a tweet @leftbacks or a comment and let’s get the Super Rugby season underway!

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