Former Otago captain Eben Joubert offers his thoughts
on the five teams from his homeland.
The boys from the high veldt will be as hard as ever. After
losing nearly an entire team after the 2011 World Cup, they
managed to blood many young players, and look to them to show
their class this year. Lock Paul Willemse is an exciting
prospect but one feels that if they are to be the dominant
team of a few years ago, captain Pierre Spies needs to
deliver on his potential. Have a look at them serenading
their fans on You Tube. Let's hope their playing will be
better than their singing. We know how they'll play, but if
they do it effectively it doesn't matter that you know.
They'll be hard to beat.
After two seasons of promising performances from a very young
team, the Cheetahs find themselves with players who now have
a few seasons under the belt. Inspirational and down-to-earth
captain Adriaan Strauss, buoyed by some proper game time for
the Springboks, should look to advance their standing in
their conference. Look out for Johan Goosen, one of South
Africa's most talented first fives in a generation.
Much has been said and heard about the politically-supported
Kings. Thrust on to the Super stage, they now have to swim
with the big fish. Controversial, yet very able, captain Luke
Watson will be a player to watch. Leonardi and Vergallo will
add some Argentinian flair. Kiwis should be interested to see
how Hadleigh Parkes goes in the team coached by Matt Sexton.
South Africa has a deep respect and hope in New Zealand
coaches; one feels they might need a bit more than hope to
win a few. Look to them to offer up a surprise result or two,
but no more.
The Sharks will be very strong this season. The addition of
veterans Butch James, Francois Steyn and Franco van der Merwe
bolsters their depth and experience. John Plumtree has had
enough time to firmly set his stamp on this team.
Pieter-Steph du Toit is an exciting young lock-flanker to
keep an eye on, as well as Cobus Reinach at halfback.
''The Bismarck'' will be eager to prove his steel after an
My early-season pick for the best South African team. Won the
domestic Currie Cup as Western Province and have the best
defensive record over the past two seasons. The addition of
talented young Elton Jantjies from the culled Lions should
add some zip to their attack. Schalk Burger is back in shape
and seems eager to show his worth once again. Look out for
another young Lions recruit, Jaco Taute, to pair with Jean De
Villiers in a formidable midfield combination.