WELLINGTON – Five talking points ahead of this week's round of Super Rugby games:
Hungry like the Wolves
Centre Jason Emery said the Sunwolves will not rest on their laurels after securing a maiden away win, 30-15 over the Waikato Chiefs, when the Japan side faces the Blues in Auckland on Saturday.
“We know we won't be seen anymore as a team you can just turn up and beat, that's what we wanted to do this year,” the New Zealander told Maori TV. “We can't just turn up and catch people off guard.”
Emery described the historic win as a springboard for further success. “There's a lot of boys who are proud, the Japanese boys are really proud as well,” he said.
“We've achieved something pretty great here. The good thing was we don't want to end it there, we don't want to be the team that plays well one week and then drops off.”
It doesn't get any easier for under-fire Chiefs, the 2012-13 back-to-back champions who have lost their opening three matches. On Saturday they travel to Canterbury Crusaders who are on a home 21-match winning streak.
Seeing red, bleeding blue
Former Queensland Red Karmichael Hunt insisted there will be no mixed feelings when he lines up in the blue of arch-rivals New South Wales Waratahs against his old team this weekend, having crossed the state divide.
The code-hopping Hunt grew up in Brisbane and had only ever played for Queensland teams in rugby league, union and Australian Rules football before signing for the Sydney-based Waratahs this year.
“I'm going to take all that passion and pride that I used as a schoolboy in Queensland as a (Brisbane) Bronco, an AFL player, an Origin player and just pour it into the NSW jersey this weekend,” said Hunt.
“Once the whistle goes, there's no friends other than the guys wearing the same colours.”
The Brits reward
Many Bulls supporters were sceptical about the signing of 37-year-old hooker Schalk Brits.
But hiring the 11-cap Springbok has proved a master stroke for the Pretoria-based franchise who are looking to complete a sweep of fellow South African sides against Coastal Sharks this weekend.
“Schalk is playing with the enthusiasm of a teenager and having the impact of a player in his prime,” wrote leading columnist Mark Keohane.
Brits retired last year after nine seasons with the Saracens in England, but Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus persuaded him to reconsider. “His basic skills are world class and his work rate defies his age,” said Keohane.
Am I fired, boss?
When Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau got a phone call from Leicester Tigers coach Geordan Murphy last week, he thought it might be to fire him.
But instead it was good news - a mayday call from old club NSW Waratahs to fill in on a short-term basis during an injury crisis.
“It was pretty much about Wednesday afternoon, I got a call from Geordan,” he said. “To be honest I thought this'll be interesting. Am I fired?”
Polota-Nau gets game time in front of the Australian selectors in a World Cup year and the Tigers will have a match-ready player on his return. He is in contention for a place against Queensland Reds on Saturday.
Good for Canes, good for ABs
The felling that Super Rugby this year is one long dress rehearsal for the World Cup has been given credence by Wellington Hurricanes coach John Plumtree's remarks after selecting Jordie Barrett on the wing against the Otago Highlanders.
Barrett's move from fullback, Plumtree said, was partly to see if the rising star could emulate All Black veteran Ben Smith, who regularly switches between the positions.
“For Jordie, we see him as our first choice fullback right now, but we want to experiment with him,” Plumtree said.
“It could be good for Jordie because playing wing and 15 very well would put him into that Ben Smith category and we've seen how that can work for the All Blacks. It could work well for both parties.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)