Fijian Drua v Hurricanes: Incumbent 12s Go At Tt
Taleki Ravouvou probably hasn’t hit the heights of 2022 in this year’s competition for Drua, but he is still very much the best Fijian option at 12 and it will be up to him to prove that is still the case over the remainder of the competition.
For now, though he must out-manoeuvre the positional find of last year’s international season, Jordie Barrett who took his game to the next level as an inside centre. It will be easier said than done considering the influence on the game Barrett is able to have when he is closer to the action.
Both players have a hard edge with nifty ball skills, Barrett is better with his boot while Ravouvou boasts more explosive power. It should be a proper encounter.
Blues v Moana Pasifika: Titans Meet At 8
One of the names that will emerge with a heightened reputation following this year’s campaign will be Cameron Suafoa having had a big impact at lock and he will now be deployed in the back row at no.8.
Opposite him will be current Pasifika captain, Solomone Funaki who was brilliant in his side’s loss to the Rebels last week and will bring hard-as-nails character to the fore as they look for a huge upset in Eden Park.
Both players are relentless carriers and big hitters on defence, 2 very similar players who will look to give their sides the edge.
Crusaders v Force: Wingers On Fire
Zack Kibirige has been a revelation for the Force this season and it happened due to misfortune for Wasps in England who were placed in administration. Their loss is Force’s gain as can be seen through his form this season.
Kibirige has been a shining light in a struggling force side, but this week he comes up against a man in similar form to him, after a slight drop-off during the 2nd part of last year, Leicester Fainga’anuku looks back to his best.
It will be interesting to how the two on-form wingers try to contain each other defensively, the offensive qualities are undoubted – defence needs to come to the fore.
Reds v Waratahs: Battle For Wallaby Ascendency
With Samu Kerevi coming back from a serious knee injury, it is still unknown whether he will be in good enough shape to spearhead the Wallabies backline at the World Cup in France and with Quade Cooper still not fit, Eddie Jones needs a 2nd senior head in the backline along with Nic White to help the younger players.
James O’Connor is one such older head, but it remains to be seen whether his form has improved enough to warrant a spot back in the squad, but this week he runs at 12 for the Reds and if the selection proves inspired, he can give Jones a glimmer of hope for the inside centre berth.
The man who ended the year as Wallabies incumbent Lalakai Foketi, who has formed a formidable pairing with Izaia Perese, will go up against O’Connor and his form suggests he is well on his way to securing his spot – should be a good duel.
Rebels v Brumbies: Guile Against Speed At 15
Two Wallabies who can yet be accommodated in the same back 3 by Eddie Jones will face off in the Sunday morning Super Rugby fixture. Tom Wright will go up against Rebels fullback Andrew Kellaway as the 2 seek to impress Jones who is set in his own ways and is unlikely to take the blueprint of his predecessor, Dave Rennie.
So every Wallaby player or prospective Wallaby is playing for something in this year’s competition, Brumbies’ Wright has the better athletic abilities with incredible speed and a more abrasive presence at the contact point as opposed to the silkier Andrew Kellaway.
The battle promises to be a good one and both could be influential in deciding which way the game swings.