Competition has all too familiar look at halfway mark

Will Jordan (right) is mobbed by his Crusaders teammates after scoring against the Blues in...
Will Jordan (right) is mobbed by his Crusaders teammates after scoring against the Blues in Christchurch. Photo: Getty Images
The Super Rugby Aotearoa competition is halfway through. So what have we learned, who is playing well and what is not working? Rugby writer Steve Hepburn has a quick look.

Never-ending story

This is like one of those dozen rubbish Scary Movie films. Same plot, same tired routine and a very anti-climactic finish.

The Crusaders came out, claimed a bit of a scratchy win against the Hurricanes and then the Chiefs. They ended up beating the Highlanders convincingly and held their nerve to beat the Blues. Now on a bye it is hard seeing any team beating the Red and Blacks.

You have to admire the ruthless and grinding style of the Crusaders but it is all a bit repetitive. Let’s hope for some change in the second half of the competition.

Dumb and dumber

If you bought a brand new Ferrari would you put it in the garage and drive the rusty Toyota?

That is what the Blues have done. Sign the best attacking player in the world and stick him out the back and not use his weapons.

Beauden Barrett has just become a kick retriever and a guy who simply contributes here and there.

What is the fascination with the double playmaker? It’s all weird science. Put the best player at No10 and build your game around him.

Rules of engagement

We get what these new rules are trying to achieve. Make it more of a contest at the breakdown and get teams onside.

More players would stay in the contest at the breakdown and there would be extra space for players. Well, not so far, though there is still some road to travel to reach the conclusion in this epic.

The whistle has been reduced in the past couple of weeks and hopefully that will continue. It is a work in progress. Then again, so was Todd Muller’s leadership.

Great balls of fire

Those who have impressed: Mark Telea, Hoskins Sotutu, Kurt Eklund, Caleb Clarke, Aaron Smith, Will Jordan, Richie Mounga, Codie Taylor, James Blackwell, Kobus van Wyk, Josh Dickson, Ash Dixon, Braydon Ennor, Lachlan Boshier, TJ Perenara, Jordie Barrett, Shannon Frizell, Marino Mikaele Tu’u.

The Godfather

A man from Canterbury signs for the Blues and is yet to play. He was supposed to front this week but his calf was not up to it. Dan Carter has had more coverage than anyone yet he has not even played. It is all a tad strange.

In other news, the sun came up yesterday.

Clueless

The job security of the Chiefs attack coach must be looking shaky. The Chiefs have the ball more than any other team yet are all over the place and have scored only four tries.

Courage under fire

The Highlanders have played to the best of their ability. Not packing much X-factor, the side has defended well and its set piece is better. The side is struggling to hang on to the ball but is not lacking ticker. Being brave and strong does not win games, unfortunately.

 

Comments

One can always rely on getting a good laugh from Steve Hepburn's rugby observations. Despite having a game and a half in hand, the Crusaders have apparently had fewer 'impressive' players than the lowly Highlanders. Hometown cheerleading is all very well, but it requires tempering with a dose of sanity.

And it's Mo'unga, not Mounga (you know, like Tu'u...)

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