Melbourne Rebels aim to preserve the only 100% record in the competition when they face the NSW Waratahs in Sydney on Sunday. Here are five talking points in Super Rugby this week:
No rest for rampaging Rebels
Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels is in no mood to go easy on his players, promising to work them harder in training this week ahead of their showdown with Australian rivals NSW Waratahs.
“I’m probably thinking the opposite,” Wessels said when asked whether he would rest players who had only a six-day turnaround after travelling back from Japan for last Friday’s win over ACT Brumbies. “We’re probably going to go harder.”
Crotty blow for Crusaders
Canterbury Crusaders coach Scott Robertson says the absence of fly-half Ryan Crotty with concussion issues will be a big loss when the champions face the Otago Highlanders in New Zealand’s fierce South Island derby on Saturday.
“He is huge for us,” Robertson said of the New Zealand international, who left the field early in last week’s chastening 29-19 loss in Wellington.
“He is an on-field coach, passionate and plays well in every big game that we have had. So we will miss him.”
The reigning Super Rugby champions only lost one match in the whole of last season, but are trying to avoid a second defeat in a row when they face the 2015 champions.
It’ll take time, says Mitchell
Ex-All Blacks coach John Mitchell heads back to his former stomping ground of Hamilton on Friday with a plea for fans of the Northern Bulls to be patient as he attempts to restore the team to its former glory.
The most successful South African Super Rugby side were champions in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and will face the Waikato Chiefs, a club Mitchell coached way back in 2001.
“It’s a team effort. We have to turn it around. Clearly, we know where we want to head to and we know what we want to do,” Mitchell said .“We’ve only just started the process, so it’s about finishing the process and making sure that we leave the club in a really good position.”
Reds in Argentina, but no Cooper
The Queensland Reds are on a roll, but even consecutive wins against the ACT Brumbies and the Northern Bulls can’t stop the debate raging over new coach Brad Thorn’s sidelining of Wallabies star playmaker Quade Cooper, who will be captaining little Brisbane club Souths this weekend while his teammates are in Buenos Aires to face the Jaguares.
Wallabies great Matt Giteau said that the talents of Cooper (29) are being wasted and that, if Thorn doesn’t want him, he should be allowed to go to another club.
“I think he brings so much to a team and obviously if the Reds aren’t going to use him, then another franchise should still have the opportunity of getting him,” Giteau said.
Lions aim to maul Sunwolves
The Golden Lions are out to “put things right” when they face Japan’s Sunwolves on Saturday after throwing away an 18-point second-half lead against the Auckland Blues in a 38-35 defeat last week.
“We stumbled last week and … are fully aware of the importance of winning all your home games,” forwards coach Philip Lemmer said. “We have to set things right this week,” he added, but warned the Sunwolves would be no pushovers in Johannesburg. — AFP