The 109-capped No8, who is not known for speaking out, said he would prefer a round-robin system where all teams play each other once, rather than splitting the competition into New Zealand, South African and Australian conferences.
“I like the idea of a full round-robin where you play everyone once, but we can’t continue with this conference system moving forward,” he said.
“They have to work something out before expansion. A round-robin or something along those lines would be fairer for everyone and result in a better product for the fans who turn up every week.”
Wisdom from New Zealand’s Rugby Captain Kieran Read:— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) July 8, 2018
“Defense shows your character. It shows how much resilience you’ve got. It shows how much Trust and Love you have for the guys around you.”
🎥 - @AllBlacks take you behind the scenes! pic.twitter.com/yVcu7hMCKi
Outgoing Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd also added his voice to criticism of the unloved conference system as his side face a play-off showdown with Chiefs.
Because conference winners are guaranteed the top three play-off spaces, the Hurricanes can finish no higher than fourth, even though they have more points than the NSW Waratahs and Lions.
It means the Hurricanes and Chiefs, who meet in the final round of the regular season on Friday, are set to finish fourth and fifth, putting them on a collision course in the quarter-finals next week.
Based purely on points, the Hurricanes would have finished second and faced a potentially easier knock-out opponent in the Jaguares, a fact not lost on Boyd.
“Potentially both the Hurricanes and the Chiefs will finish higher than the Waratahs and Lions but don’t enjoy the privilege of getting the home play-off,” said Boyd, who is heading to Northampton next season.
“So that’s an interesting feature of the competition. I think most pundits would enjoy a straight round-robin and best-man standing gets the job.”
NEWS: @Hurricanesrugby coach Chris Boyd has highlighted the injustices of a #SuperRugby competition structure that is set to see his side face @ChiefsRugby in a challenging quarter-final.https://t.co/O4yG6FclMk— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) July 11, 2018
The conference system was introduced in 2011 in a bid to reduce travel and increase the number of local derbies. As well as guarantee participation in the finals series by all the three key nations involved – New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
But critics say it is too complex and can be unfair — the Brumbies qualified second last year, even though five teams had better results.
New Zealand officials have also raised concerns about the number of Kiwi derbies, which they say rival Test matches in intensity and take a toll on players.
Buses and wrecking balls are among our five talking points from Super Rugby this weekend.
After the ‘Bus’ comes the ‘Mini-Van’
As a straight-line runner, the bruising centre proved near unstoppable when he barrelled over for four tries no matter how many defenders the Blues put in his path.
France fullback Maxime Medard probably still has nightmares about the way he was flattened by Laumape in the first Test against the All Blacks last month, although on the international stage Laumape has yet to achieve the acclaim afforded to the powerful Savea who steamrolled his way to three tries against France in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Savea, who heads to the French club Toulon at the end of the Super Rugby season, stands 1.92m tall and weighs 108 kgs, much larger than the compact Laumape at 1.71m and 103kg.
But while Savea played 54 Tests, scored 46 tries and dominated the All Blacks left wing for five years, Laumape has only played six Tests in two years and struggles for recognition in a congested New Zealand midfield which also features Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, Anton Lienert Brown and Jack Goodhue.
Wrecking ball Taqele’s Tahs legacy
The NSW Waratahs have mixed emotions as their wrecking ball Taqele Naiyaravoro blazes away in a record-breaking season as the Tahs tune up for the Super Rugby play-offs.
The hulking 124kg wing skittled the Sunwolves defenders for a try double in Saturday’s 77-25 rout to take his season try tally to 14, eclipsing Israel Folau’s previous club record of 12 set when NSW won the title in 2014.
Naiyaravoro will leave the Australian conference champions at the end of the season to take up a two-year deal with Northampton in the UK.
HIGHLIGHTS: 2018 Super Rugby Week 18: Waratahs v Sunwolves— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) July 7, 2018
The @NSWWaratahs have scored a record-breaking 77-25 win over a 14-man @Sunwolves to secure top spot in the Australian Conference. #WARvSUN #SuperRugby #Week18 #ForTheLoveOfRugby #sunwolves pic.twitter.com/jU3P3ZDtWQ
The announcement was made in mid-February before Super Rugby got under way.
Waratahs officials must be kicking themselves now that they didn’t throw more cash at Naiyaravoro.
“He came into this year a with a real determined motivation to leave here with a legacy and he’s certainly doing that,” Waratahs’ coach Daryl Gibson said.
“He hasn’t finished obviously, he’s got hopefully a few games to go, but at times he’s unstoppable and that’s something he’s reflected on, that he wants to become and he’s certainly living up to that.”
HIGHLIGHTS: 2018 Super Rugby Week 18: Chiefs v Brumbies— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) July 7, 2018
The @ChiefsRugby survive a late charge from the courageous @BrumbiesRugby to keep their home quarter-final hopes alive with a 24-19 victory in Hamilton. #CHIvBRU #SuperRugby #Week18 #ChiefsMana #BrumbiesTogether pic.twitter.com/D5n24Cb0cH
Chiefs weigh up the numbers game
The Chiefs have plenty to ponder with Brodie Retallick coming back from injury but Sam Cane and Damian McKenzie in need of a rest as the prospect of back-to-back clashes with the Hurricanes looms.
The two sides meet in the final round of the regular season next Friday to determine the fourth and fifth-placed sides who will clash again the following week in the quarter-finals.
For the Chiefs to finish fourth allowing them to start the play-offs at home they need to beat the ‘Canes in Hamilton on Friday with a bonus point and a 23-point winning margin.
One option is to put the best available side on the field — and the return of Retallick after six weeks off with a pectoral muscle injury is a positive.
But coach Colin Cooper is also weighing up whether it would be better to freshen up key players for probable away matches through to the final, if they make it that far.
McKenzie still has one stand-down week left under an arrangement for All Blacks, while Cane suffered a head knock against the ACT Brumbies and could be rested as a precaution.
“We could do that. We just need to see where we are and what are we playing for,” the cagey Cooper said, adding: “Other things could come into play.”
Rebels look to their Wallabies
The Melbourne Rebels are looking to returning Wallabies Will Genia and Adam Coleman as reinforcements for their high-stakes visit to the Highlanders on Saturday to fight for a play-offs spot.
Coach Dave Wessels is optimistic that key scrum-half Genia (broken arm) and influential lock Coleman (adductor muscle) will pass fitness tests so they can play a role in the final regular round of Super Rugby.
The Rebels and South Africa’s Sharks are vying for the eighth and final position in the play-offs after Melbourne stumbled 37-23 to the Queensland Reds at the weekend.
“We are still very much in with a shout but the reality is to make the play-offs we have to go away to New Zealand and win,” Wessels said.
Wessels said Genia and Coleman returning would only make a difference if the Rebels played far smarter.
“Certainly, we feel we can beat the Highlanders if we play to our best but we need to figure out why we didn’t do that in Brisbane,” he added.
HIGHLIGHTS: 2018 Super Rugby Week 18: Bulls v Jaguares@BlueBullsRugby gave their fans something to cheer about in the last game of their home campaign after upsetting @JaguaresARG 43-34 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.#BULvJAG #Week18 #SuperRugby #BullsFamily50K pic.twitter.com/wxgcDttlFC— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) July 7, 2018
Mitchell: talent depth’s a ‘joke’
Bulls coach John Mitchell says a South African side will not win the Super Rugby title in the foreseeable future because the four squads lack strength in depth.
“To rely on just a few world-class and Super Rugby-quality players is a joke,” the former All Blacks coach said as the regular season draws to a close.
“South African teams do not have squads that are composed entirely of Super Rugby-quality players,” stressed the handler of the Bulls, who are out of contention for a play-offs place.
However, the Pretoria outfit could decide the South African conference winners because if they win at the Lions, the Jaguares can finish first by defeating the Sharks.
The Queensland Rugby Union’s seventh annual Indigenous Round was launched Monday with the unveiling of the Queensland Reds’ Indigenous jersey – to be worn this Friday against the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium – as the centrepiece of the QRU’s NAIDOC Week celebrations.
Reds players Moses Sorovi and George Smith unveiled the unique Indigenous Round jersey, designed by Samantha Booth, whose three children Shelley (Year 9), Dinequa (Year 8) and Natalie (Year 7) are Reds Future Indigenous Leaders Program participants in Woorabinda, Central Queensland.
The program seeks to identify young Indigenous leaders from remote communities and mentor them from school years 6-10, ensuring they display positive behaviour and attend school.
Samantha is a proud Butchulla woman. The Butchulla people are the Traditional Owners of K’gari (Fraser Island). She is currently a Special Education (& Well Being) Teacher Aide at Woorabinda State School.
“The Reds Future Indigenous Leaders Program is outstanding, and I can see how my three children are benefitting from being part of it – which will certainly help them in the future.
“This design was created to represent that all roads lead to home. With the hands as the central element, representing how family is at the core of every home.
“The warm colours represent the earth we stand on the dots represent different places across Australia, the animals represent bush food in Woorabinda and other communities, and the lines visually demonstrate that no matter where you go, you always come home.
“My first experience of Rugby Union was playing for the Maryborough Wallaroos and playing for Maryborough High School around the same time,” Samantha said.
In recognition of her artwork, Samantha has also received a bursary from the Queensland Government’s Office of the Commonwealth Games.
HERE IT IS! We have unveiled the specially-designed jersey for our Indigenous Round clash against the @sunwolves at @suncorpstadium this Friday night.— Queensland Reds (@Reds_Rugby) July 9, 2018
Read more: https://t.co/m53Y3K5iXP
Jersey auction: https://t.co/E3w4c5Wrsx
#NAIDOC2018 #RedsFamily #Reds2018 #REDvSUN pic.twitter.com/wLwYlxtHTx
Minister for the Commonwealth Games, Kate Jones, said Samantha was a very well-deserving winner of the Indigenous Round Jersey competition said: “Samantha will also receive a bursary co-funded under the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Embracing 2018 Legacy Program.
“This funding will be used to establish a community art program in Woorabinda which will no doubt inspire the next generation of Indigenous artists.”
The St.George Bank will also present Samantha with a $500 cheque on match-day to assist in kick-starting her future community projects.
The 2018 Reds Indigenous Round comes just over a year after Queensland Rugby Union launched its Reconciliation Action Plan.
The Indigenous Round match will also see the awarding of the Frank Ivory Medal to the Reds player of the match. The medal is named after Queensland’s first Indigenous player.
The Indigenous Round match-day jerseys will be auctioned at www.redsrugby.com.au to raise funds for the Queensland Reds Indigenous Program.
Queensland wrap up their Super Rugby schedule against the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium this Friday July at 13:45 (UAE time). The match will also be broadcast live on OSN Sports action.