Super Rugby is back, time to get excited

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By Jacques Van Der Westhuizen

Guy: “Hey babe, it’s February, you know what that means?”

Girl: “Of course babes, it’s Valentine’s month.”

Guy: “No babes, c’mon, it’s Super Rugby time!”

Does this ring true for you? I bet it does for thousands of rugby fans out there who’ll be tired of all the football, cricket and golf.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Super Rugby is here. The 2013 competition kicked off in Australia last weekend and it gets going everywhere else this Friday and Saturday. Last week I gave my predictions of how I think the South African teams will go this year, and now I’ll tell you who to look out for in the coming months.

Firstly, let’s just say – again – that South Africa should dominate the competition. The number of talented players coming through the ranks is phenomenal and the depth at the Sharks, Stormers and Bulls is mind-boggling. But as excited as I am to see how these three teams go, I nearly looking more forward to seeing how certain players, some of whom are coming back from injury, others who’re now a little older and wiser and still others who’re only really starting out, go over the coming six months.

Sadly Juan Smith’s had to call it a day ... and I just hope that another star flanker, Schalk Burger, who’s battled a knee problem for nearly a year, isn’t going the same way. If the big blond-haired basher is able to operate at 100percent then the Stormers and the Boks are set to benefit greatly this season.

The performances of loan players Elton Jantjies and Jaco Taute at the Stormers this season will also determine whether they become Bok first choices or simply “next-in-lines”. Siya Kolisi will also be hoping to build on last year’s big showing in Super Rugby.

At the Sharks, all eyes will be on Pat Lambie as he tries to make the Bok No10 shirt his own, while young Paul Jordaan has shown enough to suggest he is one good competition away from putting real pressure on the men who’re ahead of him in the Bok midfield queue. And at the Cheetahs, everyone wants to see Raymond Rhule at a higher level, while Johan Goosen’s “bouncebackability” will be tested.

And while there is plenty of talent coming through at the Bulls the two men who could become household names in the coming months are centre Jan Serfontein and loose forward Arno Botha.

Let’s also hope the Southern Kings produce some individual superstars in the coming months ... perhaps Demetri Catrakilis, Bandise Maku, Jacques Engelbrecht or Daniel Adongo? Or will Luke Watson fight a lone battle for the Eastern Cape team?

There’s plenty to be excited about ... the teams and players must now just deliver the goods. - The Star

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