Super Rugby Round 1: Now with 25 per cent more expert tipsters

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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118 Have your say

    Yes Roarers, it is time. All the pre-season talk can stop, the last-minute research can cease, and so can the sleepless nights.

    Super Rugby kicks off this weekend in South Africa, and with it comes the kick-off of The Roar’s expert tipping panel for the season.

    Yes, much to the thrill of reigning champion Nobes, we’re all back on board again for the year.

    We’re still not entirely sure why the season is kicking in South Africa a week early, and I’ll presume it’s because they want an extra week to get ready for Eddie Jones in June, but we’re not going to concern ourselves with trivialities like facts.

    But it’s not just Harry, Digger, Nobes, and myself. This year, it’s a very warm welcome to the tipping panel to Roar expert, and author of the widely acclaimed cracking new rugby book, A World in (Union) Conflict, Geoff Parkes!

    Geoff even has the honour of kicking the season’s tipping off…

    Thanks Brett for the invite to the panel, even if it’s only a desperate measure designed to lift you off the bottom of the ladder!

    The Stormers need to get a few wins on the board before Cape Town runs out of water, up by 15 over the Jaguares.

    The Lions may have let their golden opportunity pass them by last year and I’m sniffing an upset win to the Sharks, away from home, to start their season. Sharks by 3.

    TIPS: Stormers, Sharks

    Stormers rugby player Nizaam Carr

    Sure thing: After bringing in a psychologist over the off season to help improve mental strength and discipline, the Jaguares will still concede two yellow cards and one red and believe the whole rugby world is conspiring against them.

    Good day for all, I hope we have more rugby and less political issues this year. I am back to attempt to defend my title after a well-deserved rest. It is a hard job to beat the experts representing countries with such a long and winning tradition in rugby.

    To make things harder everything starts all over where we left it last year. Apparently, the beginning of this new journey is between the man with the impeccable prose against the struggling Spanish speaking chap who sweat until the last game of Super Rugby in 2017.

    The Stormers may have to go with a 19-year-old fly-half, but Jaguares are in the usual adjusting time in the hands of new coach Mario Ledesma. He already has problems in the centres, where Jaguares will have to improvise a new tandem due to some early injuries suffered by their usual starters. So, against my heart and because I want to make it really clear that I want to win again this year, I will tip the Stormers.

    For the other game I will stick to my rule and go with the Lions at home. To tell you the truth I have not seen or heard much of the Sharks lately, but this Lions team must be hungry after two years of making the finals and come out empty handed.

    TIPS: Stormers, Lions

    Sure thing: Plenty of yellow and may be some reds. The officials will want to set the pace of how this season will be run and there is no better chance than these matches to make their point clear, from the very beginning.

    Nobes nipped me at the post last year because the Lions couldn’t win a home game when it mattered most, and Kwagga Smith was not as good a break-dancer as a blonde Kiwi coach.

    So, it’s fitting we start the new season looking at a tricky derby at Ellis Park and a Jaguares match.

    The thirsty Stormers should stumble to a home win against the possibly improved Jags. But they’ll have to do it with a 19-year old at flyhalf.

    The well-settled Sharks look the better side, this year, and I’ll go with the early upset. The tired Lions may finish fourth or fifth this season, because Gloucester will challenge for a title. Enough said.

    I fully realise I am selecting the child flyhalf, Matador wing, lockless Stormers (no Eben, no PSDT) over a Test team, and that I am tipping AGAINST last year’s bridesmaid at home. But fortune favours the foolish.

    TIPS: Stormers by a little, Sharks in a tussle

    Sure thing: Uppercuts, hooks, jabs, and haymakers. It’s a Joburg-Durban derby. And the Argies are in town. Bring your handbags!

    Eben Etzebeth makes a half break.

    Here we go, here we go!

    Despite much negativity surrounding the competition, I am greatly looking forward to another fine season, the off seasons are getting too long down here. How much break can a bloke need?

    Anyhow, to our shortened convoluted Saffie beginnings we go to a dry Cape Town and it’s the Stormers for me, simply in two seasons I have no evidence nor faith in the house cats winning away from home so a good start it should be for the mild cold front.

    I must say, I do like the look of the Sharks squad this year and would be my ridiculously early pick of the African conference, so I am backing them in, even away to the Lions who have some changes to deal with. Rugby players’ memories are long and no doubt for me the Sharkies will want to avenge their agonising Combrinck last minute monster penalty from last season from their collective psyche. Guppies for me.

    And no doubt the Bulls will be thankful for the gift of the first-round bye, a much-needed break with the whole, I mean entire, all of it, season ahead of them.

    TIPS: Stormers, Sharks

    Sure thing: Whinging will ensue, games on too early, many will claim they were not aware, and the point of the competition will be raised. Yip, another season will have started! Let’s go!

    So last year, I looked at teams each week, looked at head-to-head records, home-and-away stats; everything. And look where it got me!

    This year, I’m trying two new risky ventures: firstly, I have indeed brought Geoff into the fold because I fancy my chances against him, and secondly, I’ve not looked at the South African teams at all. Aside from their jersey launches, I’ve read nothing.

    And I can’t see why it won’t work this week; I mean, there’s stories all the time of people with no knowledge at all winning tipping comps with a simple ‘I like their jerseys’ philosophy. Who am I to argue with scientific evidence like that?

    Therefore, I’m going with the Stormers and Lions. Honestly, have you seen their 2018 playing strips?!? They’re magnificent! The Jaguares and Sharks have nothing on them, b-o-r-i-n-g to the extreme by comparison. I can’t see this failing for me.

    TIPS: Stormers, Lions

    Sure thing: A hasty revision of strategy, and actual research to feature next week. And just to get it in first, ‘no Australian losses’…

    Get your tips in now – The Crowd’s tips will be revealed Friday afternoon AEDT.

    Who gets your tip? Got a sure thing yourself? Let us know in the comments below, and enjoy your rugby this weekend…

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (118)

    • Roar Guru

      February 15th 2018 @ 6:39am
      Harry Jones said | February 15th 2018 @ 6:39am | ! Report

      Jeez. There goes the neighbourhood.

      Last year, I was hyper-motivated to beat the Crowd (and just did it by one point).

      This year, I will die before I am defeated by Dr Parkes. I will be his nemesis.

      • Columnist

        February 15th 2018 @ 7:40am
        Geoff Parkes said | February 15th 2018 @ 7:40am | ! Report

        Have you been doing those neck strengthening exercises Harry? It’s hard work looking upwards.

        • Roar Guru

          February 15th 2018 @ 9:28am
          Harry Jones said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:28am | ! Report

          You need to increase certain other muscles.

          Happy V-Day!

          • February 15th 2018 @ 8:49pm
            cuw said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:49pm | ! Report


            15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright,

            8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (c), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Juan Schoeman


            16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 Tendai Mtawarira, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Daniel du Preez, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Kobus van Wyk

            Date: Saturday, February 17
            Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
            Kick-off: 17:15 local (15:15 GMT)

            Referee: Glen Jackson
            Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Cwengile Jadezweni
            TMO: Marius Jonker

      • Roar Guru

        February 15th 2018 @ 1:37pm
        Nobrain said | February 15th 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

        If Nobrain defeated you last year and you still here the possibility of you dying is 0.
        Only words Mr Jones!!!

        • Roar Guru

          February 15th 2018 @ 9:12pm
          Harry Jones said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:12pm | ! Report


          As defending champ, you are entitled to sledge us all

    • February 15th 2018 @ 6:59am
      Highlander said | February 15th 2018 @ 6:59am | ! Report

      Welcome back gentlemen
      Rarely has a motlier crew gathered since Mr Fawkes got a few mates together.
      Sides with the biggest performance challenges for mine, Lions, Highlanders, Rebels
      Stormer and Sharks for outlier week one.

      • Columnist

        February 15th 2018 @ 9:51am
        Brett McKay said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        There’s no point me reading past ‘gentlemen’, is there Highlander… ?

        • February 15th 2018 @ 10:34am
          Highlander said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:34am | ! Report

          I leave the choice to accept the gentleman designation to each of the expert five as individuals, but thanks for declaring your hand Brett – Good luck this year, I note you will either be first or last with Nobes after week one, an early breakaway group

      • Roar Guru

        February 15th 2018 @ 10:04am
        Mark Richmond said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Hate to be pedantic Highlander, but Fawkes was one of the mates, Catesby the gatherer, but I fully endorse your sentiment ??

        • February 15th 2018 @ 10:37am
          Highlander said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          🙂 Thanks Mark, well aware, but Catesby clearly didn’t have a PR dept like Fawkes did.

      • Roar Guru

        February 15th 2018 @ 10:18am
        Diggercane said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        Hey Highlander,

        I would have to add the Blues and Tahs to that list also, both with third season Coaches and below par results to show.

        I suppose you have to expect stronger years from the Jags and Sunwolves also, third year in and surviving the cull so to speak. Plenty of pressure around the traps.

        • February 15th 2018 @ 10:38am
          Highlander said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:38am | ! Report

          Gday DC

          this year really is all about the coaches as we start isn’t it, add thorn in there too.

          • Roar Guru

            February 15th 2018 @ 11:41am
            Diggercane said | February 15th 2018 @ 11:41am | ! Report

            Quite right when you look at it but the first year lads probably get a pass like Thorn and Mitchell though Thorn has certainly not made many friends so far it would seem!

            • February 15th 2018 @ 6:29pm
              Highlander said | February 15th 2018 @ 6:29pm | ! Report

              We just gave the Cantabs a wee touch up preseason today

    • February 15th 2018 @ 7:20am
      JRVJ said | February 15th 2018 @ 7:20am | ! Report

      Damn it, Nobes, am I the only Jags fan out there? I voted for them…..

      Actually serious question: the Stormers will be without Etzebeth and Du Toit at Lock. One would think that missing those two will give the Jags pack a bit of a leg up….

      • Roar Guru

        February 15th 2018 @ 7:27am
        Harry Jones said | February 15th 2018 @ 7:27am | ! Report

        Also, two fewer guys to punch and get carded. EE and PSDT make opponents mad.

        EE’s and PSDT’s replacements are Chris van Zen and JD “Peace” Schickerling.

        But seriously, JD is playing this year for a seat on Air Springbok to Japan in 2019. He is one to watch, JRVJ.

        • February 15th 2018 @ 7:31am
          JRVJ said | February 15th 2018 @ 7:31am | ! Report

          No doubt he is quality (the Stormers’ Locks were hit by what was basically a biblical plague in 2015, so I stand in awe at the Capetonians ability to produce Locks)…. but losing two no-doubt-about-it, Springbok-level-Locks has to hurt.

      • Roar Guru

        February 15th 2018 @ 1:26pm
        Nobrain said | February 15th 2018 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

        Sorry, JRVJ but our hearts have nothing to do in this panel.!!! Happy Valentine day!!!!

    • Roar Guru

      February 15th 2018 @ 8:01am
      Machooka said | February 15th 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      A warm welcome back gents… and a big hello to Dr P!

      Many thanks to Dr P for popping in, up and out 😉

      Nobrain you confuse me, as you say Lions at home (rule of thumb) but tip Sharks??

      I’m now flummoxed because I thought the same… Lions at home to beat da Sharks like ’cause they’re at home.

      Therefore, I now find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to agree with Brett. And I haven’t even seen the magnificent jerseys.

      • Columnist

        February 15th 2018 @ 9:53am
        Brett McKay said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:53am | ! Report

        Fear not Chookman, for it is I who am confused. I believe issue has been addressed, though you shouldn’t read too much into pre-season form… ?

      • Roar Guru

        February 15th 2018 @ 1:14pm
        Nobrain said | February 15th 2018 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

        Confusion is part of this game, so welcome to it.

      • Roar Guru

        February 15th 2018 @ 1:32pm
        Nobrain said | February 15th 2018 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

        I did not tip the Sharks, if it say so is because Brett is ” managing” my tips.

        • Columnist

          February 15th 2018 @ 1:39pm
          Brett McKay said | February 15th 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

          It was all part of my ploy to keep in touch with you, until I realised that we’d picked the same anyway, so I just went back to what you actually tipped…

          • Roar Guru

            February 15th 2018 @ 1:48pm
            Nobrain said | February 15th 2018 @ 1:48pm | ! Report

            Welcome to wining. Oh !!!!Digger said that last year.

    • February 15th 2018 @ 9:08am
      nickbrisbane said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      Who is the 19 yr old Stormers flyhalf?

      • Roar Guru

        February 15th 2018 @ 9:30am
        Harry Jones said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        Damian Willemse.

        He has speed like BBBBB, and a boot like RAF Lt Bernard Foley.

    • Roar Guru

      February 15th 2018 @ 9:39am
      Diggercane said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      Thanks again Brett for including me in another year and great to see you have bought in some new competition for yourself down there! It really is an all inclusive sport.

      • Columnist

        February 15th 2018 @ 9:57am
        Brett McKay said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        I think it’s only fair that the book writers get a go, mate. Though for someone who recently filled 300 pages with text, he was surprisingly succinct today!!

        • Roar Guru

          February 15th 2018 @ 10:05am
          Harry Jones said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

          He shot his wad

          • Roar Guru

            February 15th 2018 @ 10:26am
            Machooka said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:26am | ! Report

            He is, after all, Dr P !!

            • Roar Guru

              February 15th 2018 @ 1:39pm
              Nobrain said | February 15th 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

              DR PHIL?

        • Roar Guru

          February 15th 2018 @ 10:13am
          Diggercane said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

          Yes, yes, book writers are people too. I get it.

          How did the trial go yesterday Brett? Any thoughts regarding the Brumbies or Chiefs?

          • Columnist

            February 15th 2018 @ 11:20am
            Brett McKay said | February 15th 2018 @ 11:20am | ! Report

            Brumbies started really well, looked really sharp in fact, and scored the first try of what felt like there would be several to come.

            But then the Chiefs scored from a counter down their left edge, and enjoyed doing so much they ran in three more the same way down the same side over the next half an hour to run up a decent lead.

            As the changes rolled through from the 50-60 min mark, the teams came back together, and the Brumbies came back with a couple of good tries to bring the margin back to five, before the Chiefs scored a late try (in which a hand went into touch first, but never mind) to kick out again.

            38-26 was probably a fair reflection in the end…

            • February 15th 2018 @ 11:32am
              Fionn said | February 15th 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

              Just early season rust and trying new things 🙂

            • Roar Guru

              February 15th 2018 @ 12:30pm
              John R said | February 15th 2018 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

              The Chiefs support play was unbelievable.

              Like the best defence in the comp wouldn’t be able to stop some of the tries they scored aye.

              I was impressed with Godwin, he looked good.

              • February 15th 2018 @ 1:05pm
                Cynical Play said | February 15th 2018 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

                Brumbies looked better with Lucas i thought, Hawera looks a good 10 back-up too. But the pace of Naiserani (if it was him) to out run the backs to score from a turn-over on his own quarter was the highlight. How quick is that guy over the first 30m. Unbelievable.

              • February 15th 2018 @ 1:27pm
                Fionn said | February 15th 2018 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

                In some ways, even if Lucas is actually the better player, at present Powell is the sort of guy I might prefer to start Powell and use Lucas as a finisher.

                Powell is a steady hand but not as much of a threat as Lucas. He gets to a lot of breakdowns, his pass is long and accurate, his decision making good and his kicking is okay.

                Lucas looks to me that he is by far the more dynamic attacker and would probably be more effective than Powell coming on against a tired defence for the final 30-40mins (even if they were given one half each).

              • Roar Guru

                February 15th 2018 @ 2:06pm
                John R said | February 15th 2018 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

                Yeah that was Naisarani CP, crazy speed for a big unit aye. Thought he was gonna get run down for sure.

                Lucas is a great buy for them as well. I was bummed he was leaving the Tahs, but better on the whole if he can get more game time.

            • February 15th 2018 @ 9:13pm
              Akari said | February 15th 2018 @ 9:13pm | ! Report

              Thanks for the update guys as I didn’t see the trial.

        • Columnist

          February 15th 2018 @ 10:46am
          Geoff Parkes said | February 15th 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

          Unusually I was trying to do the write thing and follow instructions. You can look forward to 1,500 words next week.

          • Columnist

            February 15th 2018 @ 11:06am
            Brett McKay said | February 15th 2018 @ 11:06am | ! Report

            No no, your sticking to the brief was noted and appreciated! Indeed, I hope it catches on!

          • Columnist

            February 15th 2018 @ 11:07am
            Geoff Parkes said | February 15th 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

            ‘right thing’

            Where’s my editor when I need him?

            • Columnist

              February 15th 2018 @ 11:13am
              Brett McKay said | February 15th 2018 @ 11:13am | ! Report

              I was letting that slide as a perfectly allowable pun!

              • Columnist

                February 15th 2018 @ 2:01pm
                Geoff Parkes said | February 15th 2018 @ 2:01pm | ! Report

                Very generous of you but far too charitable…

              • Roar Rookie

                February 15th 2018 @ 3:03pm
                tsuru said | February 15th 2018 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

                i guess Mr Parkes has been doing so much righting over the last while. But it came out all write.

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