So it has all come down to this.
Finally, the myth has come out of his mirth.
On the Shakespearean Rugby Club over the most recent days, you have read plenty on the #supeRUG conferences for 2012. We have offered you more than your fair share of wild game out of the South African Conference, with the Bounce, RuggaWorld, Irene Nell, SportBilly, and a Kapil ev. We have had a little gift from the Western Island on the Australian Conference, from Mr Plays of the Week.
Now, with only a day separating us from the start of some #supeRUG, iamjonnyking is going to pull the wool over your eyes, with his words about the New Zealand Conference in #supeRUG 2012; the most tightly contested conference in this year’s competition.
In this year of 2012 in New Zealand, four of the five franchises have the potential to win it, with the fifth, offering more than you initially expect.
The storied Crusaders and much fancied Blues, should go on without saying. The 2011-returning Highlanders will likely build on from last year, even as the Chiefs should prove their mettle from the rabble of a failed campaign. While they have added a couple with class, it starts at the top, with Coach Rennie and Assisting Wayne Smith, two astute non-dudey dudes, with the ability to bring out the best. This leaves us with the Hurricanes who will surprise on more than one occasion. One senses a resolve brought about by new beginnings, which has talent, but does not have time.
While that reads non-specific, such words are also too bland for anyone’s liking in a Top 10. iamjonnyking has a failing reputation to uphold, as one who plays the ball and not the man; as one who can separate the contest from who is involved. Ah well, now that I have you fooled you all; read on.
Therefore, in light of the darkness, iamjonnyking welcomes himself to the Shakespearean Rugby Club, as he goes on the record, talking in the 3rd person like a placido-plonker [baseball referent], giving us his lowdown on the New Zealand Conference in the 2012 edition of #supeRUG
1] If you would, as we enter the final week before some rugby, describe the mood, the flavour, the excitement for some SupeRugby in the World Champion Country in 2012? Please provide a little game by using a Kiwi icon or image to exemplify.
One must admit, it does feel like New Zealand is still enjoying the summer at the beach in their Bach – without the weather for that summery effect. After the Rugby World Cup success, kiwi’s have been able to finally sigh-out-loud with an overwhelming sense of sporting satisfaction. Throw in some good times on the cricketing field [runs into a brick wall]… Yeah, we can’t wait for Friday night. New memories to make at Eden.
2] For those unassuming types, please state 5 players from each side to  watch their side for  what position each of these players… play, and  what it is that makes them so worth watching?
In this section, I have decided to name the names that those reading, post-this-point, may not prove so familiar. Therefore, I will likely leave the stars where they reside in the sky. I have had the Crusaders words already locked in, so will just push, repeat, saving brevity to use on all the other effects.
Patrick Osbourne - Large, Fast, and Fijian, which should really just about say enough, but throw in Sevens on the side, and you have an attacking weapon on the wing in 2012. To be sure, a first Supeseason means there is more theory than practice, but solid work at a lower level means he gets his opportunity to excel. The Crusaders already have a back three to watch for, with Dagg, Guildford, and Maitland – not forgetting Marshall. However, given the likelihood of injuries, another more than useful weapon in Osbourne provides depth to their width, and another reason to watch their work.
Luke Romano - A moment’s silence for the Godfather, Big Bad Brad. While we will miss the Shakespearean about this son, in this Italian stallion, the Saders still have a herd of horses running through their engine. Built for physicality, he has been growing into the role, with this season his time to confirm a starting time. There is a battle for second row places with Tom Donnelly, but expect to see a good deal of this man, off the pine, and asserting himself. Has the necessary gifts to keep on giving, as the tight and tough lock, even in an All Blacks world, as this is a ticket waiting for a long-term ride. This is his season to prove his stuff.
Tom Taylor - Last year there was a time for a Berquist. In 2012, Warwick’s son of a gun is in the holster, and ready to be hired. With Dan sidelined for a time in 2012, young Tyler Bleyerdaal and Taylor will be battling for the starting role. While Bleyerdaal has been recently preferred, Taylor has shown the means to deal with many a dilemma. In 2011, and an away ITM Cup Final, Taylor would arrive early and lead the Canterbury side with his kicking and general play when it counted, taking the title, right under the Donald’s… nose.
Ryan Crotty - Living in the shadow of SBW does nothing for your tan. This was the unfortunate destination for this hugely talented man in 2011. While the human hypeline was dominating, Crotty was taking his time, and in 2012, his has come. While not the name and the physical specimen of his predecessor, this NZ U19, U20, and Junior All Black, will form the inside man to the Fear Factor, Fruean, and will catch a few headlines of his own. An all-rounder on the field, he will take your gap when you underestimate his gifts, and will find another when you have learned your lesson.
Charlie Faumuina – 2011 would be another building year for a man the size of a small house, in the Front-row. In 2012, he now assumes the mantle with Woodcock again on the sidelines. A man who plays the Tighthead lose, his scrummaging would continue on the ascent in 2011, even as his play around the field, marked him out. Faumuina should be pushing for higher honours as 2012 unfurls.
Gareth Anscombe – Another one of the young and talented in 10, Anscombe has been through the New Zealand grades, playing a key role in NZ’s U20 success in Italy in 2011, where his boot would hold sway in a closely contested final versus England. A tough battle for the pivotal position, with Hobbs favoured up front, his time should come, but he will have to bide it, backing up, while he also builds that frame.
David Raikuna – If there is a need for speed, then another NZ Sevens product with Fijian running through his veins is likely to have such in abundance. Given a starting role in week one versus the Crusaders, this is the next step for a young man looking to grow his game. The Blues have always had talent on their edges. This year, there is an opening for a new name. Raikuna is given the first shot of the rookies and will be looking to gas another’s.
George Moala – Another of the new breed for the Blues out wide. Moala is more your proto-typical, New Zealand wing, in that he has enough momentum to take you, but also has the physical gifts to break through you. A player who has been picked based on his potential upside, after only showing himself briefly in 2011. George of the Jungle.
Sam Cane – Another man-child, having just turned 20, Cane showed in last year’s #supeRUG that he was a special talent, shading McCaw in the Crusaders home match in Napier. If last year was about exposure, for the NZ U20 openside, 2012 will be about building onward and upward at this level. Talked about as a talent with rare ability, he joins the list of young 7′s behind the best in the world – The M.c. As we type, Cane has been named to start in 7 in the opening weekend, forcing the stalwart, Latimer, to the bench. The boy is the man.
Brodie Retallick – If it is true that the Hurricanes have the most exciting young talent from the New Zealand franchises, then the Chiefs have a couple pressing for top honours. We seem to be saying this alot, but another out of the NZ U20 side, this lock is a lighthouse towering at 2.04m, making him among the tallest, in the #supe context. Still only 20, he is another who has been given a starting role with the Chiefs, underscoring the talent and maturity in this young man’s game. You know he is earmarked.
Tawera Kerr-Barlow – This halfback out of the Mooloo seemed to have supplanted the balding one, Brendan Leonard in 2011, at ITM Cup level, at least. Leonard is a man who has fallen off the All Black radar, when he was spoken about as having the package in the cerebral, as well. The change at the top could prove his trickle-down economics, as the respect and connection with Wayne Smith could elevate, returning that spark. He has gained the starting spot in week one, but the battle is on. Kerr-Barlow is pushing repeat on the youth of the nation, going places at 21.
Asaeli Tikoirotuma – When referencing this man, those from another land should have some fun with that surname, and while it is distinctive to his time and place, his journey is proving akin to another. At a time when talent is earmarked young, Tea-koy-row-two-ma has made his way slowly through the provinces, until a connection with Chiefs head coach, Dave Rennie, at Manawatu, helped secure this next avenue. If I describe him in the mould of a Sivivatu, such describes the greater dexterity in his skillset, than the brazen forcefulness that is the mark of many. Can play in the midfield or on the wing, so an ideal man on the bench, which is where he has begun in 2012.
Aaron Smith – Another man out of the Manawatu, Smith would have a successful stint with the Highlanders in 2011, with some even considering his ability in the basics of halfback-play, worth a spot in the starting lineup. Not big, by today’s standard, Smith is about clearing the ball, a little akin to Graeme Bachop, although not in that class. Offers much when compared with the Cowan proto-typical behemoth, but likely to prove so off the bench.
Kurt Baker – Listening to Kurt Baker off the field, one could consider him a little shy for the spotlight, but forget-about-it, as when he crosses the white lines, he is never Carlos for a word. A young man touched by a Tiejtens, he would famously raise the fist at the Commonwealth Games when Australia were defeated for the Gold. A star in the Sevens, an injury would take 2011, but he is more than ready to alight for this #supeRUG season. He is a true believer, and with an ability to beat a man, he could surprise, even as he reminds one of a little of Plane Jane.
Tamati Ellison – A jack of nearly anywhere, in the backline, Ellison left the Capital, after making his All Blacks debut in the San Siro, at the back end of 2009. He has spent a couple seasons away from home, but has been lured down south with the promise of a stable franchise under ex-Lions coach, Joseph. It seems Ellison will slot into 12 – maybe 13 – adding depth and class to a Highlanders side that showed more than promise in 2011. Will be battling for this position, but when you consider the other potential names, this is a side building toward success.
James Haskell – I couldn’t resist adding this International’s name from the old dart. He has been playing his time in Japan, with Nonu and Ellison, and is fitting a #supeRUG season in, before he heads back home. A sizable brute, he has played anywhere from 6-8 up north, but don’t expect him to be given 7 down here. I am yet to be convinced he was a better buy than a Colin Bourke, but Joseph sees value in this less than a one-hit wonder. Trust he enjoys Dunedin a little less than last time.
As I begin to talk the walk of these names, the following gets me most excited.
Reg Goodes – He will be an All Black. A young man out of Africa who is playing prop while still many are popping their zits. To my eyes, he just has it. One of the breed of Owen Franks-type front-row freaks, it is a shame that he is injured early in #supeRUG, as he has the opportunity to make it before he hits 20. Yes, you read that age right. In last year’s, ITM Cup, he was a staple in the Lions diet. Loftus will wonder why he leftus, one day. Could be the All Blacks Loosehead at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Still 19, turns 20 in the #supeSeason
Beauden Barrett - If rugby was a pair, we would say that young Barrett has it in his jeans, as the son of “smiley” looks to be given the first-five role vacated by Cruden. Putting the pressure on the lad, he has the style and game of Larkham, but can also kick goals. Played in 15 in the NZ U20 side that had Gareth Anscombe in 10 and Lima Sapoaga in 12, showing again the NZ talent in the pivot, and this young man’s ability & gas with ball in hand, means you don’t just give on his read. If he just believes, can go all the way. Again we land on the 20; will turn 21 in the #supeSeason
Brad Shields – You have been warned about this boy. Of all the young talent in this #supeRUG season, it is he and Goodes that I most opine to see. If Jerome Kaino is not wearing six in 2015, this is the man. If you are old enough to remember the player, Cowboy Mark Shaw, Shields has that edge. You can play him in six or eight, but look for him to combine with double V, in a growing loose-forward trio. While not in #supeRUG, Ardie Savea in the NZ Sevens side will be the next # 7, giving the Hurricanes, an exciting group to build for the future. Again, another 20 year old, turning 21 in the season.
TJ Perenara – Push repeat on another, even younger man, who has risen early in the ITM Cup for Wellington, after earning national honours at a number of levels – another U20 from 2011. He has his opportunity vacated by another moving away, but will have to play for it. A Halfback, he plays the position more like a Farr-Jones, which is more distributionally distinctive in a New Zealand context. Needs to take the step up to continue his rapid early rise and momentum, but when he came onto the scene, looked like he could be anything. Just turned 19.
The best young talent in any of the New Zealand franchises.
3] Now for the 5 sides as a whole, for each,  what do you believe is their biggest strength in 2012  what do you perceive will be their most significant weakness in 2012?
You know I must go plural on this question.
Strengths – Culture of success. Squad depth. Experience. World class and world leading personnel in a handful – 3, 7, 8, 10, 15. Playing their season at home & out of their own bed.
Weaknesses – The potential for the season after the season before. Recent success without winning it all. A slow start that moves to a slow middle
Strengths – Quality improve in the pivotal positional players. Momentum & confidence gained from 2011. Lineout. Eden Park.
Weaknesses – Youth and inexperience in the depths of their front row & wing, if injuries strike. Lacking combinations. Lack of killer instinct.
Strengths – Fresh and classy coaching set-up. Backline attack. Hunger. Boredom for visitors.
Weaknesses – A tight-five that needs to walk & not talk. Question marks around the implementation of the gameplan. Leadership. Specialists.
Strengths – A building culture that has player buy in. Building squad, with some elite editions. New stadium that should go off in 2012.
Weaknesses – Injuries. Props. Scrum, but Hore will help. Breakdown that needs work. A class 7.
Strengths – Clean slate. World class in their youth level. Accent on team. Lack of outside pressure and/or expectation. Hunger.
Weaknesses – World class loss of experienced personnel. Propping group still in nappies. Leadership.
4] Will a Kiwi side win it all this year? A simple – Y or N.
5] A new season means a clean slate, and renewed hope. Time for a reality check; which Kiwi sides are making up the numbers and why.
I think it is unfair to affirm that the Hurricanes are merely making up the numbers, as I believe they will offer more, particularly as the season builds.
However, it is asking too much considering the long-haul of 2012. If the Canes can finish midfield, this will be a successful season. When the Crusaders made their changes after season one in Super 12, they finished sixth. In the following, they won it. The Canes must look to build a bridge to success; then get over it!
6] The final order in the Kiwi Conference, from 1 to loser-ville, 5?
As I have indicated, there is much potential in the five franchises for 2012, which is encouraged by the greater context of the other conferences. In terms of the final placings, I get my knickers in a twist, as I sense the nuance that will impact on the final results. However, in saying that, I will pull up my shorts and provide some definition.
There will likely be three distinct finishing groups in 2012.  The Crusaders/Blues will be battling it out at the top, and I do mean these words; seasonal realities could well decide [injuries].  The Chiefs/Highlanders will likely finish a little behind, battling it out for third, which may be enough for the playoffs, depending how they perform in the inter-conference play.  The Hurricanes. Again, don’t be confused about the Hurricanes; of all the sides in 2012, they could be the one that excites me the most. They have some young talent that is second to none in New Zealand.
In brief – Crusaders. Blues. Chiefs. Highlanders. Hurricanes.
7] Now to extend your glare. There are two other teams; state the other winners in these other two Conferences?
I feel the pain of splinters consuming my spine, as one is really going on a vibe, than any more solid means. I picked the Reds to win the Australian Conference and the Stormers to win the South African Conference last year, so we all have our moments. There are valid reasons to think the Stormers will struggle more in 2012, but one does not see as many reasons why the Reds form should not continue.
However, I have a sense about the Waratahs. Don’t put any dollars on that; will you?! Week one may prove these words fruitful/fool. The Sharks are the side that seem to have come out of the changes in SA rugby with the least amount of scarring.
Therefore – Waratahs. Sharks.
8] Get your Waterford’s out, care to take a crystal ball at the 6 sides to make it to the playoffs?
Crusaders. Waratahs. Sharks. Blues. Reds. Chiefs.
9] The Final before the Finally; which side will take the title in 2012?
Crusaders. I have gone on record affirming that it will be an all-kiwi final with the Blues, and when it gets down to this, to gehenna with anything in the head; heart rules – Saders.
10] Finally, and looking toward 2013. What to do about the Kings? What is an Kiwi solution to this Saffa saga? What should be done?
This really is a very messy situation – cue the stereotypes – and like any situation that has a drawn out element, it feels like it is turning more into a Saga with Spears stuck in a dead end.
I am more inclined to try and search for, what I will describe, as a pro-South African solution in the short-term, particularly one that can be further integrated when the contracts come time, for renewal. This is also built on the perspective that, like it or lump it, #supeRUG is the beast that will assert even more of a budren.
The key question remains as to how to make it workable so that the “integrity” of the competition does not fall apart, affecting results with the impact of a draw. The fact that a couple of franchises are chewing through the money like they are on the killer diet pills, does not engender confidence that the locals can make it work.
However, South Africa contribute greatly in making this competition viable through the TV dollar, and sorting this solution out would be one way to build toward the future, preparing to also integrate a team from Asia, the Pacific, or the Americas, into the other two conferences in the coming years.
There Endeth the Lesson
And you think you’re relieved that it has ceased.
In less than 24 hours, #supeRUG is starting in 2012, and the Shakespearean Rugby Club is all over it like a Romeo and Juliet.
Post-to-post-preview-review-indepth-accounts; with even some brevity thrown in for good measure; this is the site for your sore eyes in this season of 2012.
What to do now?
We will do our best to keep things updated on the Shakespearean Rugby Club, but when a live audio commentary is beginning, the timeline is no better place.
Speaking of such; iamjonnyking is planning again in 2012 on completing his live audio commentary that you can catch online, which means, no matter if you are watching live or stuck at work, you will not miss a beat… or boot.
Tomorrow night, 7:30pm, we plan to kick it off with the first fixture, bringing you the Blues v the Crusaders, from the Garden of Eden. Bookmark the following site, and STAY TUNED.
We have much to do and say before things get started tomorrow night, and we have said enough in these proceedings.
Please connect and stay that way, as it is so much more fun, when we join together for the ride.
To the season ahead.
What Say You?
Until Next Time