WELLINGTON – Five talking points ahead of this week’s games in Super Rugby:
Pocock blow for Brumbies
Australia star David Pocock isn’t having much luck at the ACT Brumbies this year.
The flanker had to leave the field after just five minutes of their opening match for a head knock, then missed the second as he recovered.
And he has now been ruled out of this week’s clash against the NSW Waratahs with a calf injury.
Coach Dan McKellar is also without prop Allan Alaalatoa (wrist) as the Brumbies desperately look to get their season back on track after winning just one of four games.
Despite the setbacks, McKellar is geared up for the match.
"It’s the ‘Tahs at home, an opportunity to get stuck into the New South Welshmen. What more do you need to get excited?” he said.
Deckchairs on the Titanic?
Waikato Chiefs coach Colin Cooper admits his side’s 0-4 start to the season means the pressure’s on for Friday’s home match against Wellington Hurricanes.
Cooper has shifted Damian McKenzie from fly-half to fullback for the match and slotted the All Black’s brother Marty in as pivot.
Whether it amounts to moving deckchairs on the Titanic remains to be seen, but Cooper had a message this week for critics who are calling for his head, telling stuff.co.nz “I’m not going anywhere”.
The 2012-2013 back-to-back champions will take heart from their home record against the Hurricanes, who haven’t won in Hamilton since 2007, with their sole away win against the Chiefs coming in New Plymouth four years ago.
Dominating the All Blacks
The Otago Highlanders may have lost 25-22 to the Wellington Hurricanes last week but they came out on top in the forward exchanges and lock Josh Dickson fancies more of the same against South Island rivals the Canterbury Crusaders on Saturday.
Rather than praising the defending champions’ All Blacks-laden scrum, Dickson said he was determined to dictate terms.
“That’s always our goal, we’ve got to go out there and dominate,” he said. “We’re not going to say we’re not going to dominate. That’s our plan.
“We’ve just got execute everyone’s role and if we do that we will dominate.”
Pride of Lions
Wilhelm van der Sluys has bucked a trend of South African players heading north to Europe to reap greater financial rewards.
The 27-year-old second row forward quit English Premiership club Exeter Chiefs to join the Johannesburg-based Golden Lions for the rest of the Super Rugby season.
Lock has become a problem area for the runners-up in the past three seasons with Franco Mostert moving to England, Andries Ferreira to New Zealand and Marvin Orie and Lourens Erasmus injured.
"The Lions play an attractive brand of rugby and I hope to settle quickly into their systems,” said van der Sluys after his first training session.
After a two wins, two defeats start to the season, the South Africans host in-form Australia conference leaders the Melbourne Rebels at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Argentine Test for Stormers
South Africa’s Stormers are bracing for Test match-sized challenge when they host the Jaguares in Cape Town.
The Stormers are keen for a home win ahead of their tour of New Zealand and Australia, but it will be far from straightforward against a Jaguares side which is a proxy for Argentina’s national team.
“They will essentially be an Argentina Test match team so we know what to expect and will be preparing to play Test rugby this weekend‚” said Springbok centre Damian de Allende, according to reports.
“Fortunately though‚ and this is not meant to sound arrogant‚ we have a lot of international players too‚ and we know what international rugby is about,” he added.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)