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Week 2 of Super Rugby and what we can expect

Will the Crusaders’ Blues Continue?

This weekend’s Super Rugby kicks off with the Crusaders hosting the Blues in Christchurch. This is always a big game and one to look forward to. The Crusaders have dominated Super Rugby since inception and the Blues have not done to badly themselves.

The Blues won their opening game and even though it was a close game it was against the defending champions. As with most of the New Zealand sides they have had a lot of personnel changes and this makes it difficult to read too much into the first week’s result. The same can be said for the Crusaders who lost stalwarts like Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. The lost they suffered to the Chiefs was significant as they were playing at home.

Does this mean the Crusaders will fall against the Blues? Well you never know although the Blues win was at home. Both sides still have game makers and breakers although not as many as in the past. The players still need to find each other as many new combinations have been created and it is only the second week of the season.

The teams have met 26 times in the past with the Blues winning only 11. This game should be much easier for them as explained. I can however not see them beating the Crusaders by too big a margin and will give it to them within 5 points

Crusaders

15 David Havili, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Tim Boys, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody. Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Johnny McNicholl

Blues

15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 George Moala, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Matt McGahan, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino (captain), 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi. Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19  Akira Ioane, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Male Sa’u

Will the Brumbies stampede on or will the Waratahs stop them?

The Brumbies started the 2016 season with an impressive 52-10 win against the Hurricanes. Not that it was against the run of play, but most fans didn’t expect the margin. The Waratahs also had a good start to their campaign and it should be fair to say that the game Canberra on Friday is between the two Australian title contenders.

This is going to be a very closely contested game with both sides able to run the ball from just about anywhere on the field. Yet they both have strong packs and can dominate upfront. They have faced each other 27 times with the Waratahs winning 16. In all the average points difference is 1 but looking at the recent history the team that wins does so in style.

The flyhalves will play pivitol roles for both sides. Kurtly Beale can be an elusive runner while Christian Lealiifano has a dangerous kicking boot on him. The Tahs will have to stop Kuridrani and if they can do that the game should be theirs to win.

In this game discipline will play a big role as neither side will want a player sent off. My gut feel is telling me the Waratahs will win this game. The margin 10+ points.

Brumbies

15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano (c), 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Blake Enever, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio. Substitutes: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Nigel Ah Wong

Waratahs

15 Israel Folau, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Zac Guildford, 10  Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 David Dennis, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Angus Taavao, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan. Substitutes: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Matt Sandell, 18 Jeremy Tilse, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Bryce Hegarty

Can the Chiefs scalp the Lions?

The first game on Saturday will be the Chiefs hosting the Lions in Waikato. Both sides have their tails up after scoring wins away from home on the opening weekend of 2016. The Lions probably feels better than the Chiefs seeing as they had to make the big trek from South Africa to Japan. Still they played the new boys on the block, The Sunwolves, while the Chiefs beat the mighty Crusaders in their own back yard. If you want to see full on running rugby, both these sides can bring that to the party and will probably do so again this weekend.

The chiefs should be the favourites this weekend. Not only because the Lions had to make two day long flights across numerous time zones in the last 14 days, but also because they have won 13 of the 18 encounters between the two sides. It will be a high scoring game should history be anything to go by. Don’t be surprised by a 20+ victory margin either. I believe it will be closer than that but purely because of the traveling by the Lions the Chiefs will win by around 7 points

Chiefs

  1. Damian McKenzie, 14. Latu Vaeno, 13. Seta Tamanivalu, 12. Charlie Ngatai, 11. James Lowe, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8. Maama Vaipulu, 7. Sam Cane (captain), 6. Tom Sanders, 5. Brodie Retallick, 4. Michael Allardice, 3. Hiroshi Yamashita, 2. Rhys Marshall, 1. Pauliasi Manu. Substitutes: 16. Nathan Harris, 17. Mitchell Graham, 18. Siate Tokolahi, 19. Taleni Seu, 20. Michael Leitch, 21. Brad Weber, 22. Anton Lienert-Brown, 23. Glen Fisiiahi

 Lions

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnal Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith. Substitutes:  16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Fabian Booysen, 21 Jaco van der Walt, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Can the Hurricanes bounce back or will the Highlanders do it?

This is a game that both sides will want to win after losing their opening encounters last weekend. The Highlanders did so by a narrow margin and will look back at the game and wonder why? Probably because of ill-discipline and poor goal kicking. The Hurricanes, well they will know it was just because the Brumbies were too good for them.

This is a tough call to make as the Highlanders are defending champions yet the Hurricanes have won more games against them than what they have lost. Both sides have the players to make this a close fought affair and that it will probably be. The Hurricanes will try and dominate up front before setting their backline loose. The Highlanders will play the percentage game but can run it from anywhere on the field. The Highlanders to win by less than 5.

Highlanders

15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Shane Christie (co-captain), 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Brendon Edmonds. Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Jason Emery

Hurricanes

15 Nehe Milner-Skudder/James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Blade Thomson, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Reggie Goodes. Substitutes: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 James Marshall/Jason Woodward, 23 Willis Halaholo

Reds or Force who will it be?

This might look like an obvious pick to make. The Reds are at home and therefore they should win against the much weaker Force side. Well if that is what you think, think again. These two sides have met 12 times with the Reds winning 6 and there has been a draw as well. The Force had 4 wins and the draw in the last 6 games between the two sides. The last game did go to the Reds however.

This is one of those encounters where you know that the scores will be high or the victory margin will be huge. To be honest the Force has always been a much better team away from home as long as they played in Australia. The Reds on the other hand has underperformed for a couple of seasons now. I am going with the Reds b y between 10 and 15 points

Reds

15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Curtis Browning, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 Ben Daley. Substitutes: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Sam Balakai, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Junior Laloifi

 

Force

  1. Dane Haylett-Petty, 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Ben Tapuai, 12. Junior Rasolea, 11. Semisi Masirewa, 10. Jono Lance, 9. Alby Mathewson, 8. Angus Cottrell, 7. Matt Hodgson (captain), 6. Brynard Stander, 5. Adam Coleman, 4. Steve Mafi, 3. Guy Millar, 2. Nathan Charles, 1. Pekahou Cowan. Substitutes: 16. Heath Tessmann, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. Ross Haylett-Petty, 20. Ben McCalman, 21. Ian Prior, 22. Peter Grant, 23. Marcel Brache

Bulls to trample Rebels?

The Bulls might have lost against the Stormers last week while the Rebels won away from home against the Force, but that will mean nothing come Saturday. The Bulls have a young side while the Rebels side is more set. Again it will not mean much.

The Bulls have not lost to the Rebels and they will not be looking to do so at their holiest place, Loftus Versfeld. The Closest the Rebels has come to a win was in 2012 when they lost 41-30. Other than that they have not scored more than 10 points in a game against the Bulls, this while the Bulls have never scored less than 40. It might not be such a big score by the Bulls this weekend but they should win this one by no less than 10 points.

Bulls

15 Warrick Gelant , 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), Trevor Nyakane. Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel

Rebels

TBA

Will the Storm be too much for the Cheetahs?

For South Africa this will be the game of the weekend. Both teams are known for the running rugby they can produce through their backs. Both sides have strong forwards and can get the rolling maul to the work as well (ask the Bulls how well the Stormers make theirs work). The Cheetahs has never won this encounter by a huge margin and even though the Stormers has done so on more than one occasion it is never a one sided affair.

The teams have met 14 times with the Stormers winning 9. With an average of 50 points in a game and a winning margin of around 5 on average it does say a lot about these two sides. They like to play against each other and do so running the ball. The Stormers should win this one with ease and it will be with at least 10 points.

Cheetahs

15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais. Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Boom Prinsloo, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Niel Marais

Stormers

15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble. Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones

Can the Jaguars pounce again?

The Sharks did record a win in their opening game and yes it was away from and it was by 33 points, but it was against the Kings. Not South Africa’s strongest rugby province at the current moment or even for the last 20 years. The Jaguars also recorded a win and yes it was also away from home and yes it was a close call winning by 1 point. Still they did it against the Cheetahs, a team known for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

That it will be a good game I have no doubt. The Sharks will hope to build on the momentum they have. The Jaguars will want to show that they can continue winning and they should as the bulk of the team has played for Argentina at the international level. This game will be won up front and if that is the case it should go to the Jaguars, but discipline will be important as well and here they lack a bit. All I have to go on here is my head, my heart and my gut. My head says Jaguars, My heart says Sharks, and my gut says it will be a brilliant game won by a kick in the last minutes by the Jaguars.

 

Sharks

  1. Willie le Roux, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Joe Pietersen, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Daniel du Preez , 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Tendai Mtawarira (captain). Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Juan Schoeman, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Philip van der Walt, 21. Michael Claassens, 22. Garth April, 23. S’bura Sithole

Jaguares TBA

Last weekend I got 8/8. Let’s see how I do this week. Follow me on twitter @djvanman or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vanman1979 and let me know your predictions.

Bench has huge impact as SPringboks scrape home

The Springboks came back from 28-16 down with 20 minutes to go to win 33-31 against Argentina on Saturday in Salta. This was mainly due to the impact the bench made late in the game. Many hailed it to be a well deserved win by the Springboks.

Although we all know that it is not easy to go to Argentina and just came back with a win, especially these days, it was still a closer game than the Springboks expected. Overall the Springboks have won 18 tests against Los Pumas and one test was drawn. This is at an average of 39-19. That puts the 33-31 score a bit more into perspective.

As captain, Jean de Villiers put it:

“I’ve said it before, but I really think Argentina is a much better team than what their world-ranking shows, and they showed it again today,” said De Villiers after the match.

“We’re happy that we could pull it through, but it could’ve gone either way.”

He went on to praise the effort of the bench:

“That is not saying that the players who started did badly, but our bench, whom we see as impact players rather than replacements, certainly made an impact today and that is probably where the difference was.”

Heyneke Meyer added to this:

“All credit to Argentina though – they’ve been together for a month and you could see that today as they played some great rugby,” said Meyer.

“We don’t want to say every week that we’ve shown great character, but we’ve now won nine out of our last 10 away games and I think the guys have shown that they know how to win.

“At one stage, we were down and out and the team came back. We know there are a lot of areas we have to work on, but we’re still in this competition.”

The Springboks next faces Australia and then New Zealand away from home. They will then return to play the same teams in South Africa. As it stands the Springboks top the log by 1 point from New Zealand.

They will have a lot of work to do before the next leg of the Rugby Championship. One of these being the scrums where the Springboks were decimated two weeks in a row. Wales also out scrummed them earlier this year.

 

New Zealand Women’s Sevens nail spot in Cup Quarter Finals

The New Zealand Women’s Sevens team advanced to the Quarter Finals of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 with three  decisive victories, easily topping their pool at the Moscow tournament.

The team raked up 17 tries with only one against from their three pool games and now face England in Sunday’s Quarter Finals at 12.28pm (8.28pm NZ time). 

“Big ups to the girls, this is doing it for each other, and working hard for each other,” said captain Huriana Manuel.

The team saw off Canada 20-5 in their final pool game after earlier crushing the fancied Netherlands in a in a seven tries to nil blitz. They started the day beating Tunisia 36 nil in an early morning outing. The latter two victories both coming on Gorodok Stadium which is part of the Luzhniki Olympic complex.

Portia Woodman was the leading try scorer on another hot and humid day in the Russian capital bagging six tries including a three try brace against the Netherlands.

“I’m really pleased for the girls,” said coach Sean Horan.“We haven’t moved too far away from what we have been doing, it’s working for us. We focused on getting out of our pool and having the opportunity to win the pool.

“If you look at the profile of who we have got, we are not the biggest side, we come up against big sides, Russia are big, Canada are big, we just play what suits us, it was taxing, but it was taxing for them and us.
 
“The girls are pretty focused on what they want to achieve, they know it is not going to be easy by any means, we won’t get ahead of ourselves. They will be focusing on what they have to do.”

And for the players, it’s quite simple.

“We felt our previous tournaments that our defence let us down so we can only improve on our defence and the simple things, doing them well,” said Manuel.

Results
New Zealand 36 (Wickliffe, Hireme, Manuel (2), Woodman, Goss tries, Winiata, Nathan-Wong cons) Tunisia 0

New Zealand 41 (Manuel, Brazier (2), Woodman (3), Goss tries, Brazier, Nathan-Wong cons) Netherlands 0

New Zealand 20 (Hireme, McAlister, Woodman (2)) Canada 5 (Marchak)

(c) NZRU

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All Blacks Sevens advance to Quarter Finals of World Cup

The All Blacks Sevens fought off a spirited challenge from USA in their final pool match of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 to advance to Sunday’s Quarter Finals.

The USA victory following wins over Georgia and Canada earlier on Friday ensured New Zealand finished top of Pool D. They now face Wales in the Quarter Final at 1.22pm (9.22 NZ time).

But it was the game against the USA which proved the stiffest test of the three.  New Zealand slumped to a 5-19 deficit after opening the scoring, but turned that back in the second half racing in three unanswered tries to win 26-19 – settling the nerves of the few dozen Kiwi supporters who have made the long journey to Moscow.

“We made a few mistakes and they pounced on them, and they made us pay for it,” said Tim Mikkelson. “They are a good team and we showed a lot of fight to come back.”

Earlier in the day the team beat Georgia 26-7.

Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said after the USA match the team needed to eliminate mistakes, particularly around kick-off if it was to get its hands on the Melrose Cup on Sunday for the first time since 2001.

“It’s what it is all about. We just couldn’t get our hands on the ball.  When you look to attack when you have been defending for so long, you haven’t got those energy levels so it’s tough work. We need more ball to play with, conditions are hard enough as  it is now let alone trying to play the game without the ball.

“The guys are hurting. We like to pride ourselves on good performances and we didn’t put in one of those, it’s about tomorrow now, we are still in the championship and there was a time in that game when we might not have been in the championship.”

The team also lost Sam Dickson to a knee injury during the match.  The extent of that injury remains to be determined, but Tietjens said he had good depth on the bench if the lofty young Canterbury forward needed to be replaced.

The players left the giant Luzhniki Stadium  late afternoon with plenty to focus on.

“We knew World Cup was going to be tough and every team would get up,” said Mikkelson. “We just need to lift that little bit extra on Sunday to be in with a chance.”

Results

All Blacks Sevens 26 (Cama, Raikabula, Baker, Stowers tries, Cama, Baker, Stowers cons)
Georgia 7 (Kvirikashvili try, con)

All Blacks Sevens  26 (Stowers, Mikkelson, Raikuna, penalty try, Kaka cons)
USA  19 (Edwards, Hawkins (2), Siniula cons)

(c) NZRU

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New Zealand Rugby congratulates Hosea Gear on 100 Super Rugby matches

     
  
New Zealand Rugby congratulates Hosea Gear on 100 Investec Super Rugby matches

  
   
  
New Zealand Rugby has congratulated Highlanders winger Hosea Gear after he celebrated his 100th cap in Investec Super Rugby in front of a home crowd at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin tonight.

Gear, 29, made his Investec Super Rugby debut in Hurricanes colours against the Chiefs in 2004.  Since switching to the Highlanders in 2012 remarkably, he has started every game for them in the number 11 jersey.

The 14-Test All Blacks winger made his 100th appearance in the competition in a fast-paced southern derby against the Crusaders tonight that saw him squeak inside the touch line for his 37th try in Super Rugby and his sixth try this year.  The Crusaders won the match 40-12.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew congratulated Gear on his milestone match.

“It is a special achievement to have played 100 matches in this competition and Hosea has contributed a lot of excitement to the game.  We congratulate Hosea as he now joins a special group of players to reach this milestone,” he said.

Highlanders’ Head Coach Jamie Joseph paid tribute to Gear’s development into a world-class player and professional athlete.

“I have seen Hosea develop into one of the best players in the world in his position. He is one of the hardest workers both on and off the field. He always brings a professional approach to the Highlanders team environment and is highly respected by all the guys.  Our team would like to congratulate him for reaching this remarkable milestone.”

Highlanders’ General Manager Roger Clark also congratulated Hosea on reaching 100 games in Super Rugby.

“Hosea is a remarkable player and a strong leader within our team. He has always done his talking on the field and led by example and this season has been one of his best. On behalf of the Highlanders I would like to congratulate Hosea on reaching 100 Super games”.

New Zealand Rugby Vice President David Rhodes presented Gear with a special greenstone mere, New Zealand Rugby’s gift to all Super Rugby centurions.

Gear is the third Highlander to make 100 matches this year along with Brad Thorn and Chris King, and they join the proud list of centurion Highlanders including Anton Oliver, Jimmy Cowan, and Tony Brown.

(c) NZRU

Photo:  Joe Allison/Allison Images.

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All Blacks Sevens nail opening match of Cup – NZ Women set for opener

A five try burst saw the All Blacks Sevens put away Canada in their opening match of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 with a 31-12 victory at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

Sherwin Stowers dotted down twice with tries  apiece to Kurt Baker, Gillies Kaka and Pita Ahki.

The win was a satisfying return to the playing arena for veteran captain DJ Forbes playing in his second World Cup. He missed the last two tournaments of the HSBC Sevens World Series through injury and was only confirmed in the Cup squad days before departure for Russia.

“To be back here in the World Cup is just an awesome feeling. The pressure of World Cup footy, to tick the box and get a win is the main thing, but in saying that we will be disappointed to let two tries through.”

The senior players ditched a long standing tradition to stay unshaven to finals day with all freshly shaven on the opening day of the Cup.

“We always said the whole shaving of the beard was business day, but as far as the World Cup goes you have got to win them all, so first day here, clean shaven.”

In the other Pool D match, USA held on to beat Georgia 26-19 and the All Blacks Sevens play both teams on Saturday.

Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens was happy with his team’s first up outing.

“It’s great to get out with a 19 point win, we made a few errors at the  end which led to a couple of tries, but  overall impressive.

“We started well which is a real key against  Canada, by starting well and putting some points on, it put them under pressure and that was the winning of the game, our start.

“For us to start well against Canada, the first game is the most difficult and Canada on their day can beat any team, so I was a bit nervous to be fair not knowing what to expect, different surface, different country and the heat of course, but we put it together which was awesome.”
 
Meanwhile the New Zealand Women’s Sevens team finished preparations on another hot Moscow day with temperatures above 30 degrees for the fifth consecutive day. They begin their Pool  A game against Tunisia at 9am (5pm NZ time), followed by strong opponents Canada and the Netherlands.

“Everybody is starting to get very excited,” said coach Sean Horan.  “They are in a good head space at the moment, they have prepared well and we have done everything possible so it’s now just about playing to our strengths and enjoying it.

“We always go into every tournament of the World Series talking about growth and learning and this one is about fronting up. It’s a pinnacle event and you can’t hide from that. We are walking towards it and will give it our best shot.

“It’s now over to them, we have prepared them as much as we can, they are in great spirits, they have great support and they are a good bunch of girls, now they just have to go and deliver.”

(c) NZRU

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All Blacks Sevens set for Rugby World Cup

The All Blacks Sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said his side was in good shape ahead of the opening match of Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 in Moscow today.

“They are looking good, feeling good and they are excited at the moment which is pleasing.”

The All Blacks Sevens take on Canada in Pool D at 3.44pm (11.44pm NZ time) in the giant Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital, with their remaining two pool matches taking place Saturday.

“They are very good rugby players, we have played them twice, London and Tokyo, both close games and I expect nothing different tomorrow.”

Temperatures in Moscow were again above 30 degrees as the  capital endured an early summer heatwave. Similar temperatures are forecast for the three day event. The New Zealand Women’s Sevens begin their campaign against Tunisia on Saturday morning at 9am (5pm NZ time).

Mindful of the conditions his team will face late afternoon Friday, Tietjens took the team through training at the same time on Thursday on the well prepared pitches which encircle the Olympic Stadium.

“It’s a lot hotter, but we have adjusted each day so adjusting to the conditions and the heat has been the biggest challenge and we have handled it pretty well and trained pretty well. The boys are in really good shape.

“We had one little scare during the week with Tomasi (Cama) and a little back injury but he came through with flying colours.”

The team completed preparations with a jersey presentation from Karl Tenana, member of the New Zealand team that last lifted the World Cup in 2001 in Argentina.

“Karl passed on a little bit of knowledge of what to expect at a Rugby World Cup and that’s great for the younger players. Until you start playing for a Rugby World Cup you don’t know what pressure is all about. I remember Dubai four years ago when we lost that crucial quarter final and it’s still in the back of my mind and we want to turn that around and start this tournament really well and put a lot of confidence in the team.”

The World Cup marks a big year for one of those younger players,  Canterbury forward Sam Dickson who made the side for the first time last year. The jersey presentation has capped off an exciting week in Moscow.

“Karl has been there and done that and he has gave us a couple of words as to why we are in the team and what to expect when we come on to the stage. It was pretty special because he is a legend in the game.

“The World Cup was a goal since I joined the team a year ago. To be in Russia, to finally make it, it’s a dream come true to be at a World Cup. I never thought I would be at a sevens World Cup so it’s time to represent my country and my family and go for it.”
 
Tietjens is on his fifth World Cup campaign and knows what to expect.

“To win this tournament you have to have six good games and hopefully we can get through the games without having to battle injuries and other concerns.

“I’m always apprehensive going into a tournament, but I never look too far ahead. Hopefully collectively every one of the players will make it a real challenge for me to put a top side on the park. And I want that competiveness in the side and they all have a great attitude and attitudes are a huge  ingredient.” 

(c) NZRU

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NZ Women’s training intensifies as temperatures soar in Moscow

Training stepped up a notch for the New Zealand Women’s Sevens team preparing for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 as temperatures in the Russian capital hit 34 degrees.

The tournament kicks off Saturday for the women who have now had three training sessions on pitches which surround the giant Luzhniki Olympic Stadium. The team plays their opening matches  at Gorodok Stadium which is part of the Olympic complex.

“The team’s going really well, they have acclimatised with the travel and are looking good,” said coach Sean Horan. “We’ve been focusing on fine tuning our preparation – acclimatising to the heat, getting used to the conditions, getting our heads right and our bodies right.

“The key focus is just getting the girls confident. We have gone through a lot of over the last six months, and progressed well so it’s just sharpening the sword and getting ready to enjoy ourselves.”

The Cup is the second for Selica Winiata, the 1.55m police woman, dubbed “shorty” by her team mates and one of four remaining from the 2009 World Cup team.

“The team is shaping up really well,” said Winiata. “We have been here three days, had three trainings and each training has been more intense. The girls are getting really focused – they have come to train and we are in good shape.

“We’ve been working on getting  clarity around defence and our attack, making sure everyone understands their role and jobs. At the end of the day if we are going to win the World Cup, defence will do it for us so that’s a huge focus.”

It’s been a big three days for the team, travelling 30 hours to reach Moscow late Sunday and with little time to see sights aside from a Red Square visit for the team photo. The goal is clear after winning the inaugural IRB Women’s Sevens World Series.

“The big goal is to the collect the World Cup and bring it home,” said Winiata. “But we also want go out and have fun as a team living our family values being sisters on and off the field.”

(c) NZRU

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Two new All Blacks, Coles and Thrush recommit to New Zealand

Pair re-sign with New Zealand Rugby, the Hurricanes and Wellington  
  
Two of the newer All Blacks in the national side, hooker Dane Coles and lock Jeremy Thrush, have re-signed with New Zealand Rugby, their Hurricanes franchise and Wellington province.
Coles, who has played six Tests for the All Blacks, more than 50 games for the Hurricanes and 66 matches for Wellington, has signed for three more seasons through to the end of 2016, while Thrush, who made his Test debut in the recent Steinlager Series against France and is a senior member of the Hurricanes with close to 80 caps and 65 for Wellington, has signed through to 2015.

Dane Coles said: “I am really proud of what I have achieved so far with Wellington, the Hurricanes and All Blacks but keen to build on that so I was definitely keen to re-sign for the next few years. I just want to work on all aspects of my game, keep working hard and keep getting better.”

Jeremy Thrush said he was more than happy to recommit to New Zealand Rugby.

“I have been loving my footy in recent times with Wellington, the Hurricanes and the All Blacks. The last few weeks with the All Blacks has been pretty special, especially making my Test debut, and I’m going to work hard and add to that if I get the opportunity.”

All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen said: “I want to congratulate both players on recommitting to New Zealand Rugby.  They are outstanding men, we were really impressed with the way they prepared and played in the Steinlager Series and look forward to working with them over the next few years.”

Hurricanes Coach Mark Hammett said: “Both these players epitomise the attitude and commitment we seek within the Hurricanes and it is fantastic news they have committed to the team till 2015 and 2016. They are both strong leaders and we are delighted to have them on board.

“Dane continues to work hard and puts in the extras required to reach the next level. He is a team man and his contribution to the Hurricanes is invaluable.
 
“Seeing Thrushy make his All Blacks debut was a real highlight. His commitment and perseverance to the Hurricanes and Wellington was rewarded and we know he will strive hard to reach that again.”

26-year-old Dane Coles now has some solid Test match experience after first earning his All Blacks call-up on last year’s end of year tour which followed some compelling and livewire performances for the Hurricanes and Wellington. He started the first two Tests in the recent Steinlager Series before a calf strain ruled him out of selection for the Third Test. Coles made his provincial debut in 2007 and Super Rugby debut in 2009 and quickly gained a reputation as a fast, mobile hooker. He has also played for New Zealand Under 21 and for the Maori All Blacks in that team’s 2010 Centenary Series.

28-year-old Jeremy Thrush brought plenty of experience when he was called into the All Blacks for this year’s Steinlager Series – with close to 200 first-class matches under his belt – together with agility in the lineout and mobility around the paddock. He is now in his sixth season with the Hurricanes and captained Wellington last year. Thrush was the IRB Under 19 Player of the Year in 2004 after a World Championship-winning campaign in South Africa with New Zealand Under 19 alongside Kieran Read and was also part of two New Zealand Under 21 sides (2005-2006) and the Junior All Blacks.

Coles and Thrush join a large group of recent All Blacks who have committed to New Zealand rugby for the next few seasons, including captain Richie McCaw, playmaker Daniel Carter and props Ben Franks and Wyatt Crockett and lock Brodie Retallick (all signed to 2015), the All Blacks most capped prop Tony Woodcock and fellow props Owen Franks and Charlie Faumuina, hookers Hikawera Elliot and Corey Flynn, lock Luke Romano, loose forward Victor Vito, halfbacks Piri Weepu, Andy Ellis and Aaron Smith, first five-eighth Aaron Cruden, midfielder Conrad Smith and outside backs Israel Dagg and Cory Jane (all through to 2014).

(c) NZRU

follow Dave on @djvanman on twitter

Two new All Blacks, Coles and Thrush recommit to New Zealand

Pair re-sign with New Zealand Rugby, the Hurricanes and Wellington  
  
Two of the newer All Blacks in the national side, hooker Dane Coles and lock Jeremy Thrush, have re-signed with New Zealand Rugby, their Hurricanes franchise and Wellington province.
Coles, who has played six Tests for the All Blacks, more than 50 games for the Hurricanes and 66 matches for Wellington, has signed for three more seasons through to the end of 2016, while Thrush, who made his Test debut in the recent Steinlager Series against France and is a senior member of the Hurricanes with close to 80 caps and 65 for Wellington, has signed through to 2015.

Dane Coles said: “I am really proud of what I have achieved so far with Wellington, the Hurricanes and All Blacks but keen to build on that so I was definitely keen to re-sign for the next few years. I just want to work on all aspects of my game, keep working hard and keep getting better.”

Jeremy Thrush said he was more than happy to recommit to New Zealand Rugby.

“I have been loving my footy in recent times with Wellington, the Hurricanes and the All Blacks. The last few weeks with the All Blacks has been pretty special, especially making my Test debut, and I’m going to work hard and add to that if I get the opportunity.”

All Blacks Coach Steve Hansen said: “I want to congratulate both players on recommitting to New Zealand Rugby.  They are outstanding men, we were really impressed with the way they prepared and played in the Steinlager Series and look forward to working with them over the next few years.”

Hurricanes Coach Mark Hammett said: “Both these players epitomise the attitude and commitment we seek within the Hurricanes and it is fantastic news they have committed to the team till 2015 and 2016. They are both strong leaders and we are delighted to have them on board.

“Dane continues to work hard and puts in the extras required to reach the next level. He is a team man and his contribution to the Hurricanes is invaluable.
 
“Seeing Thrushy make his All Blacks debut was a real highlight. His commitment and perseverance to the Hurricanes and Wellington was rewarded and we know he will strive hard to reach that again.”

26-year-old Dane Coles now has some solid Test match experience after first earning his All Blacks call-up on last year’s end of year tour which followed some compelling and livewire performances for the Hurricanes and Wellington. He started the first two Tests in the recent Steinlager Series before a calf strain ruled him out of selection for the Third Test. Coles made his provincial debut in 2007 and Super Rugby debut in 2009 and quickly gained a reputation as a fast, mobile hooker. He has also played for New Zealand Under 21 and for the Maori All Blacks in that team’s 2010 Centenary Series.

28-year-old Jeremy Thrush brought plenty of experience when he was called into the All Blacks for this year’s Steinlager Series – with close to 200 first-class matches under his belt – together with agility in the lineout and mobility around the paddock. He is now in his sixth season with the Hurricanes and captained Wellington last year. Thrush was the IRB Under 19 Player of the Year in 2004 after a World Championship-winning campaign in South Africa with New Zealand Under 19 alongside Kieran Read and was also part of two New Zealand Under 21 sides (2005-2006) and the Junior All Blacks.

Coles and Thrush join a large group of recent All Blacks who have committed to New Zealand rugby for the next few seasons, including captain Richie McCaw, playmaker Daniel Carter and props Ben Franks and Wyatt Crockett and lock Brodie Retallick (all signed to 2015), the All Blacks most capped prop Tony Woodcock and fellow props Owen Franks and Charlie Faumuina, hookers Hikawera Elliot and Corey Flynn, lock Luke Romano, loose forward Victor Vito, halfbacks Piri Weepu, Andy Ellis and Aaron Smith, first five-eighth Aaron Cruden, midfielder Conrad Smith and outside backs Israel Dagg and Cory Jane (all through to 2014).

follow Dave on @djvanman on twitter

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