The Roar
The Roar


The High Five: Super Rugby Round 1

Reds players lift up Sam Kerevi (centre) after he crossed over to score a try during the 1st round Super Rugby match between the Queensland Reds and the Sharks from South Africa, at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Guru
26th February, 2017
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Round 1 of Super Rugby has been completed, some good, some bad and unfortunately some ugly across the opening weekend.

Results were largely as expected across the board with the Chiefs victory in Dunedin, if judging by betting odds, the only ‘upset’ of the round.

Here are my five big talking points from the opening stanza of Super Rugby 2017.

Are the Reds the real deal?
With the Reds expected to do well this season after their excellent recruitment for this season, their opening match against the Sharks was highly anticipated to see just how they would perform.

It wasn’t a perfect performance by any stretch, a lack of cohesion and errors permeating the performance but they did manage to secure the victory despite the difficulties up against a quality Sharks side, sticking with it to secure the win in the last 10 minutes.

This game would have resulted in a loss in previous seasons and there is no doubt the squad will be better off for the hit out.

While most eyes would have been on the more experienced stars for the Reds, it was some of the younger brigade who caught the eye, most notable were Adam Korczyk, the starting blindside had a strong match and the excellent impact provided by Izack Rodda and James Tuttle from the bench showed the Reds have some depth to their squad.

It is perhaps a bit early to proclaim them as title contenders, but a promising start.


Rebels lacking depth
It was hoped the Rebels could finally take that step up this season and really push for their first playoffs appearance in Super Rugby but turned out a disappointing first up performance at home against the Blues, getting hammered in the process.

While I have a tendency to be perhaps a touch lenient on the Rebels given their large injury toll, I cannot but help compare their situation to the Chiefs, who have suffered similar setbacks to their roster over the past few seasons but have still managed to make the playoffs over the past few seasons.

In spite of this, throw in the fact the Rebels were at home and it appears that they will need an awful lot of luck on the injury front as I do not think the Rebels have the squad depth to get them through the long season and into a playoff spot.

Sunwolves a shambles
As much as I enjoyed the Hurricanes running amok, it was not a great result for the competition, highlighted by Willie Britz, the Sunwolves’ number 8 halftime interview where he stated that ‘they were just a team with seventeen days of training together and that they just wanted to go out and enjoy it and give the crowd what they want which is good rugby.’

You what now?

I am not sure the packed Tokyo crowd wanted to see their side embarrassed in that fashion and I am just stunned by the omission that the squad has had just seventeen days in preparation! Seventeen! When you consider that most sides have been ramping up since October, well, it is just not good enough.


The fans deserve better and the competition needs better from one of its newest additions.

The Hunt yellow card
Don’t start, I know there are new protocols around head contact and while I do support player protection and applaud more focus around concussion issues, this decision lacked basic common sense in my opinion.

Karmichael Hunt, the tackler, went low and caught the ball carrier, Lwazi Mvovo, around the head, who had lowered his own body position anticipating the tackle.

I can accept a penalty for the accidental contact but a yellow card was a rubbish decision and was obviously a reaction from the ref for the outcome, which unfortunately left Mvovo dazed.

While on the subject, if this is the type of decision we can expect, then at least we should expect consistent application across the competition and this was certainly not the case, many similar instances passing by unnoticed.

Check out Billy Meakes’ clean out of Michael Hooper in the Waratahs versus Force clash which only drew a penalty, far more deserving of a yellow card than the Hunt tackle.

Officialdom has some work to do in this respect.



Are the Stormers the dark horse of the competition?
The Stormers turned on a fantastic first half to dismantle their local rivals the Bulls at home in Capetown.

They played at a furious pace, their attacking intent to the fore and simply ran the Bulls off their feet, running out a 24-0 halftime lead.

It is fairly obvious this side has worked very hard in the off season, fitness is well up and with plenty of speed to burn coupled with their obvious forward strength, the Stormers look a very different and threatening proposition this season.

It is obvious they have leant plenty from their embarrassing playoff exit to the Chiefs last season along with seeing the success of fellow South African side the Lions and their style of play.

It would appear the recruitment of former Blues assistant and Auckland coach Paul Feeney is paying dividends for the Stormers’ offensive play and they look well versed to compete with the New Zealand sides in particular this season.

The Kiwis will need to be aware of the Stormers’ strong counter ruck, turning the Bulls over on numerous occasions and an obvious area being worked on to attack the New Zealand sides in future rounds.


Early days I know, but it would not surprise to see the Stormers do very well this year if they continue in this vein.

Those are my top five talking points from the opening round of Super Rugby this season, and I am sure there are plenty more – bring on Round 2!