WELLINGTON, New Zealand, May 31 – Five talking points ahead of this week’s games in Super Rugby:
– Do you speak Super Rugby? –
New Zealand Rugby has released a video detailing how to correctly pronounce the names of some Super Rugby players: . The clip is hosted by former All Black Piri (Pee-ree, not Perry) Weepu, who says pronouncing names properly is a way of being respectful to different cultures. Among those featured are Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa (Alla-alla-taw-ah), Blues flanker Dalton Papali’i (Pa-pa-lee-ee) and Chiefs flanker Pita Gus Sowakula (So-a-cool-a). There are some names certain to trip up unsuspecting television commentators, such as Hurricanes back Wes Goosen, whose surname is prounced Hoi-sin like the Chinese sauce, and Chiefs assistant coach Tabai Matson, whose first name is pronounced Tum-bye, with a silent M. Chiefs halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, recently referred to as “Triple-T” by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, was given a separate video to spell out his tongue twister Teh Toy-roar Tah-hoo-ree-or rung-ee: .
– Highlanders prime big guns –
Otago Highlanders have recalled their big names as they start a late-season push for the play-offs by hosting Wellington Hurricanes on Friday. The Dunedin-based side have named 10 current or past All Blacks in their line-up including Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Luke Whitelock, who were all rested for last week’s patchy win over Queensland Reds. Flanker Liam Squire also returns from a broken thumb. Assistant coach Mark Hammett said that after five weeks on the road the side were excited to be back home, where they have won 11 games in succession. “We want to give a huge push towards making the play-offs this week before we hit the June break,” he said. “The players are really looking forward to being back under the roof in front of a vocal home crowd.”
– Chiefs fortress faces Crusaders test –
Waikato Chiefs also take an 11-match home winning streak into their clash with Canterbury Crusaders on Saturday, although their recent form against the reigning champions has not been convincing. The Chiefs have lost their past three meetings with the Crusaders, including 45-23 towelling in February. The visitors are also on a high after overcoming numerous injuries to beat Wellington Hurricanes last week and give themselves a five-point lead at the top of the table. Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said there was no room for complacency as he looks to take his team into the Test break in a commanding position. “The Chiefs have an extremely good scrum,” Robertson said. “Given their injuries they have done a great job with the players that have come in for them — as have we, so it will be a great battle.”
– Tahs on notice over ‘body language’ –
Waratahs forward Michael Wells says strong “body language” is a big priority for the NSW Waratahs against fierce rivals Queensland in Brisbane on Saturday. Wells says Waratahs skipper Michael Hooper and forwards coach Simon Cron called out players in the post-match review for showing signs of weariness in last week’s fading loss to the Waikato Chiefs. “In reviews it is a pretty sobering moment when blokes see Cronny (Cron) pull up clips and they’re on the haunches and sucking in the deep ones. It is something we are going to work on, the body language,” Wells said. “If your life is on the line, which is how we should be playing, we have to make the effort. We have rectified that. A few blokes have been put on notice and we will be better this week.”
– Brumbies stand-off with Wallabies coach –
The ACT Brumbies are in a stand-off with the Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika over his demand to withdraw Test stars David Pocock, Allan Alaalatoa and Scott Sio from Sunday’s clash against the Japan Sunwolves in Canberra. Cheika made the request amid concerns over the tight six-day turnaround between the Super Rugby game and next week’s opening Test with Ireland in Brisbane. But the Brumbies are determined to have their best players available to boost their hopes of attracting 15,000 fans for the Sunwolves game amid worries over declining crowds. The Brumbies have pledged to donate Aus$15,000 ($11,350) to charity if they reach their 15,000 Sunwolves crowd target, with average crowd numbers in the national capital dipping below 8,500 per game this year — putting them in danger of recording their worst average crowd figures in Super Rugby history.