Go chunkies, go!

Not all Man-of-the-Match awards are made equal. TANK LANNING and ZELIM NEL predict which South African Super Rugby player will deliver the most heroic performance in Round 2 to claim the unofficial SA Conference MVP award.

Tank picks: Alistair Vermaak (Stormers)
With the Bulls, Sharks and Lions having enjoyed fruit-bearing outings in week one, it’s the mountain goats from Cape Town who will be desperate to bounce back from their horror show in Pretoria. So I am backing one of that lot to be our second round MVP.

Quite clearly biased toward the flat-eared blocks of granite who make the referee’s job hell at scrum time, I am looking to the Carlu Sadie vs Alistair Vermaak match up as the grid-bending, cooler-box emptying head-to-head of the weekend.

Adding braai salt and a shot of tequila to the showdown is the fact that Sadie has had to move north after he was deemed surplus to company requirements in the Cape.

Both played 60 minutes in round 1, and neither gave away a scrum penalty.

Sadie, though, was part of a very dominant scrum display for the Lions vs the Jags, so much so that it took the scrum option away from the home side when they were given a midfield penalty that they needed to score from in order to get back in front on the scoreboard. He, Dylan Smith and Malcolm Marx were mightily impressive as a unit.

Sadie also won 3 turnovers and made 12 tackles, one of which was dominant.

Both are of the “brick shithouse” variety, with neither troubling the tape measure much (both around the 1.8m mark). Sadie, though, at a pretty hefty 125kg, is a full 15kgs heavier than Vermaak.

All roads lead to Carlu then?

Not so fast. At 21, Sadie is still be learning his trade, and there is a reason the Cape coaches wished him well last year. At 29, Vermaak has been around the block, and is probably the most underrated loosehead scrummager in SA. I am backing him to come out on top at Newlands.

Zels picks: Akker van der Merwe (Sharks)
SA teams claimed five wins against NZ Conference rivals last year – the Bulls beat the Hurricanes, the Stormers beat the Blues, and the Sharks beat the Blues, Highlanders and Chiefs.

In a related development, after two of the worst seasons in team history, the Springboks started to regroup in 2018 and they dug in to beat the All Blacks 36-34 in Wellington. That result snapped SA’s six-game slump against their arch-rivals and marked the first Bok victory against the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2009.

With the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the horizon, it’s imperative that SA teams continue to build on this momentum against Kiwi opponents during Super Rugby, and the Sharks will get first bite when they host the Blues on Saturday.

The Sharks have won all but one of the last 12 clashes against the Blues and the overt physicality of the east coast pack has often been decisive against a Blues team that prefers running over rumbling. This mindset was never more evident than in the Auckland side’s season-opening loss against the Crusaders at Eden Park where the Blues pack was routed by the champions’ charging maul.

The hosts at the Singapore National Stadium experienced a similar lack of traction last week as the Sharks kept the Sunwolves heavies in reverse, and Akker van der Merwe was at the tail of two lineout drives that found a parking spot in-goal.

The average margin in the Sharks-Blues fixture is 10 points, and I’ve got Van der Merwe winning MVP honours for two maul tries in a win that extends the Durbanites’ home streak to six, and banks a vital victory for SA against New Zealand.

You’ve read what they think, now let us know who you think will stand out in Round 2!

- Big Debate

Let's chat

  • Johan

    Carlu Sadie
    Learning his trade from 47 Super Rugby cap, 8 Springbok cap, Julian Redelinghuys, will have helped Carlu a lot since leaving the Stormers.

    He has already showed that he learned a lot from Marx, with 3 turnovers of his own, in one game.
    That would put him 3rd in the Stormers’ list for all turnovers won during last year’s super rugby!!

    Click Here!

    I’ll back him for the win :)
    (Only the travel to- and from Argentina in a week, is bothering me)

    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      I saw Sadie get taken to task by a bench loosehead in a WP club game last year. Having liked what I saw initially, he seemed to fall off the bus as a scrummager. But players respond differently to different coaches, and to different team mates. And perhaps the Lions scrum strat suits him better. He certainly surprised me last weekend, and if he does the same on Saturday against Vermaak, then I will have to recallibrate!!

      Certainly going to be a key part of the game on Saturday. Smith vs Louw or Malherbe will form a key part of that battle. Cannot wait to watch it unfold

      • Whinger

        Sadie impressed me on Saturday (or was it Sunday). Having Marx and Smith next to you does help. It was my first real look at him. I did wonder how Neethling Fouche and Michael Kumbirai made the Stormers squad ahead of him though. Saturday was my first sight of Fouche as well, and I was less than impressed. As for Kumbirai, he disappointed me the whole of last season. Useless scrummager. I don’t give two hoots about a tighthead’s ability in the loose. His job is to anchor his own scrum and disrupt that of the opposition. That way he gives his loose forwards a few metres start on the opposition, which is worth 10 times more than winning a turnover, 10 tackles, or carrying the ball 10 times.

      • Hanrick

        Jaguares scrum has been a weak point for a long time so I won’t read to much into the Lions’ dominance against them there. Expecting a big backlash from the Stormers and travel counting against Lions. Stormers lineout a big worry though, and that isn’t something you fix in a week’s time. Lions short in the backrow so surely the Stormers should have anough lineout options.

        • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

          Yep, Jags actually have a crap scrum these days. Storm need to simplify those lineouts BIG time!!

          • Herman Schroder?

            Hi Tank. Then why have the Jags done so well against the SA teams especially last year? Are they smarter and more skilled perhaps ? Cheers.

          • humblepie

            Don’t underestimate the Jaguares. The serious money (see bookies) rate them higher than 3 of the local franchises. I suspect that they will reach the play offs. The Bulls will have to repeat last week’s performance to be on par with them and even then it will be a 50/50 call.

          • John Comyn

            Exactly Tank – it drives me insane. Throw the bloody ball to 2 and 4 more often than not until they can sort it out. Marx’s throwing has not been to flash in recent times. I’m saying this because the Stormers need to contest more often.

  • Barry

    I would have to go with Zels on this one!

    It is not common for 1 or 3 to get man of the match awards. I’m pretty sure it’s nothing to do with IQ limitations, but rather the fact that the full impact of their art is not always obvious or apparent!

    On the Ali Vermaak proposal – I question just how legal his scrum work is? Maybe the experts could comment. Tank as you mention he is not the biggest chap and thus gets his results through technique rather than brute force. I notice on Saturday how he managed his head under the chest of the opposition 3 and continued crabbing across, with his bind eventually disappearing into the tunnel! It is well executed but surely “scrumming in”?

    Akker has simply been in outstanding form. Unquestionable Midas touch when he’s 5m from the chalk with ball in hand, but more so, his all rounder attributes; Scrumming, line feed, mobility, turn overs, and getting across the chalk are really impressive. To my mind, not much of a race!

    • Whinger

      You are wrong. The only good thing about the whole game for the Stormers, was Vermaak’s mauling of Nyakane. The loosehead is supposed to go under the tighthead’s chest (if he can). That way, he keeps the attention of the tighthead off his hooker. The tighthead is supposed to prevent the loosehead from getting to that position of dominance, if he has the ability. If he hasn’t, he folds in and turns sideways to protect his ribs. And he retreats. You guys are far too used to these 1.93m loosehead props, who scrum past the tighthead, to avoid the pressure, so they can look like a fifth loose forward. And don’t underestimate the power required to get under a 125kg tighthead to pop him out of the scrum.

      • Barry

        We fully appreciate that Ali is your hero, but sorry mate he scrums in! His bind disappearing down the tunnel obviated this! Ask any glen!

        • Whinger

          Sorry mate, I just have it against retreaded looseheads who pretend they can play tighthead. As for most Glens, they do not know squat about scrums. There was nothing wrong with what Vermaak did on Saturday. I hold no candle for him, except that he is a good scrummaging prop, aided by his lack of height. I like props who can do their primary duties properly, before they pretend they are flankers.

    • John Comyn

      Why ask Tank when you have already clearly identified Ali is cheating?

      • Barry

        My post is clear John, I’m asking the “experts” for their view on my comment. As ever, you are critical of other posts but offer little by way of consructive input. What’s your take on Vermaak scrum work?

        • John Comyn

          I don’t know enough to comment on technique. I do however know he has never let the team down.

    • Albert

      My only question with Akker is are we seeing another Schalk Brits? I.e. a world class player that won’t get the rewards until he is nearing 40. Akker is far better than Mbonambi and I would say our pecking order should be Marx, Akker, Mbonambi (if he sorts out his lineout throwing).

      I hope Akker gets a good look in at the Boks this year.

      • humblepie

        I rate Spray-gun Mbonambi at about #8 and only because I don’t know more first class hookers in RSA. It is a shocker that he is a selected Springbok and this tends to support other comments in this section that the national coaches are influenced by other people. Surely Rassie can see the damage that such a player can do in a test match? Just imagine that the overthrow-and-try-under-the-posts incident of last year is repeated in a world cup semi final!!

      • Whinger

        So the show pony gets recognition now he has moved to the Bulls. Tut, tut. A year ago he was old rubbish, with nothing to offer the Boks.

        • Herman Schroder?

          The Lions regularly take the cast offs and turn them into proper rugby players. Carlu just another one to prosper under a real coach and set up. Cheers.

          • Albert

            Old Schrodinger’s Cat is still around. Here I thought maybe you finally threw in the towel. Same script, different year.

          • Whinger

            Sadie just shows the enduring inability of the WP management to recognize a good player when they see him. It has been like that since the days when Gert Smal let Brent Russel, his star under 20 player go and kept Swys Swart on the advice of Markgraaf, who was not part of the union. It changed slightly when Rassie took caarge of the junior teams, but Coetzee undid it all when Rassie left. And long will it continue under the current management.

      • Barry

        As every there will be targets to reach, so Akker is touch and go imo. Rassue seems to have a soft spot (or is it hard) for Britz, so I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s overlooked again, for some reason

        I wonder if either could be played at 6 (Marx/Akker)?

        • Whinger

          Sigh. Old SA ailment. Take a good player out of position and try to make him into something else. First loosehead props and locks, now hookers. Really?

      • SweetAz

        I actually prefer Akker to Marx,- I think Marx goes missing in games, a bit overrated in my opinion.

        • Herman Schroder?

          The rest of the world doesn’t agree with you. Cheers.

        • John Comyn

          His throwing in is also not to flash. May have cost us one or two tests last year.

        • Johan

          Hahaha you have to troll better than that sweeeeeeeeet.

          Rugby player of the year nominee vs a player that didn’t even make the Springbok squad?

          I like Akker, but he isn’t at Marx’s level yet.

          • SweetAz

            Yeah, he may have been the nominee of the years and he undoubtedly had some standout games but he does have some shockers as well. Personally I think there are 3 or 4 hookers in World Rugby better than Marx.

    • Chris Mouton

      I’m with you on this one. Akker all the way!

      • Herman Schroder?

        Learn’t his rugby at the Lions of course. But Marks still the best all round hooker including his scrummaging. Cheers.

  • boyo

    Tank you need to take off those WP tinted glasses mate. Remember when you suggested Willemse should have won SA young player of the year over Nkosi? You are a journalist and I like your stuff but work on that impartiality a bit. Us fans can be as biased as we like but not you.

    Vermaak is a journeyman prop at best he plays in an all springbok tight 5 regularly and saves his best performances for the currie cup where the standard of comp is a lot lower. WP to get snot clapped again because the mix of overrated players and an out of depth coach makes them certain to finish last in the SA conference add the off field issues and voila its an embarrassment of a season.

    • Whinger

      What The Stormers achieve have little or nothing to do with the ability of their props. Vermaak has outscrummed (please note, outscrummed, not outplayed) Nyakane and Thomas du Toit in the Currie Cup last season. He has repeated against Nyakane last Saturday, (He who is a “certainty” for the World Cup). Yes, the Stormers have a sub standard coach and some over rated players, especially at loose forward and in the backline.. That does not detract form the scrumming ability of Ali Vermaak. If he is of journeyman quality, what does that make Nyakane and Du Toit.

      • boyo

        It makes Du toit a LH in his first full year at TH and 22 and nyakane also a LH playing at TH.

        • Whinger

          Yeah, sure I know. Why would you want to do that? There are reasonably good tightheads out there. They are not tightheads. That is my point. Bok management seem bent on picking these guys as utility props, when they can have specialists on the bench. I carry a candle for every loosehead who can show up the shortcomings of these retreads. I do not want them in the Bok side.

    • John Comyn

      2017 overall standings

      1 Lions 65
      2 Crusaders 63
      3 Stormers 43

      2016 overall standings
      1 Hurricanes 53
      2 Lions 52
      3 Stormers 51

      Not great but a lot better than, lets say, The Bulls or Sharks

      • Barry

        Oh boy, a few important fact left off again!

        We had the Two Africa conference set up in 2016 & 2017. Stormers were in a pool with Sunwooves(17th) Bulls (15th) & Cheetahs (13th). On the basis of conference winners going through the Stormers were gifted a play off slot in both years.

        Perhaps remember that these were the years that the Lions & Sharks had outrageous away draws against 3 and 4 NZ sides, but despite that still made play offs.

        The reality check came in 2018 when the Africa conferences were amalgamated. The Lipns and Sharks made the play offs and the Stormers got a reality check!

      • boyo

        John you just forgot 2018? A lot of Stormers fans have blanked it out dont worry.

        Sharks 36
        Stormers 29
        Bulls 29

        • John Comyn

          Apologies Boyo this response was meant for someone else. While I got you on the line- you are making some bold statements after 1 round. Lions and Sharks are now world beaters having conquered the mighty Jaguarers & Sunwolves! The Stormers will beat the Lions. The Sharks game in two weeks time will be a lottery as it always is at this time of the year in Durban. So suddenly it’s Stormers played 3 lost 1. Ditto The Sharks (that’s if they beat The Blues this weekend). No fat lady singing just yet.

          • boyo

            I am making bold statements mainly regarding the Stormers. While I hope for a good sharks season we have to see if they can string a run of performances together before making a call on their season and the lions are difficult to judge because we don’t know how good the jags are with a new coach and no sanchez.

            I stick by my prediction of the Stormers though they will end last on the SA conference. Fleck isn’t a quality coach, they have huge off field issues and marquee players who spend most of the super rugby season chilling waiting for the guaranteed bok call. Etzebeth has played more games for the boks than the stormers! Malherbe over the last couple seasons is the same and kitschoff looking to take its easy now as well it seems

    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      Let’s re convene on Sunday, Boyo

      • Boyo

        Why wait any longer tank how did you bok quality Ali Vermaak go today?

        • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

          Honours fairly even? Vermaak got Sadie properly in 2 scrums, though. Lions hammered Stormers in one scrum, but that was Smith hammering Malherbe while Vermaak was off the field for his yellow.

          That said, though. The Lions scrum is indeed a good one, and here’s to Sadie thriving in it. Good on him!!

          • boyo

            Thought the WP scrums were good I would even say Ali did get the upper hand but he also got a yellow in General play and you had him as your front row player of the week possibility. I don’t mind Ali I just don’t see him as anything more than a good solid provincial player.

            I am Sharks bias so to combat that when judging a player I always use the test of whether I would want him at the sharks and honestly I wouldn’t replace beast or Schoeman with Ali and I am certainly not suggesting Schoeman is bok quality.

      • boyo

        Fair enough I will give you a stay of execution until Sunday on this one.

        • humblepie

          good analysis boyo. You forgot to mention the Stormers (celebrity?) captain that seems to find it difficult to stay on the field for more than 50 minutes. Ironically, strong leadership is critical in the last quarter of the match. A worried captain on the bench with a warm blanket over the knees is of no use.

  • Sad times in the Cape

    While Vermaak is a decent scrummager, the rest of his game is pretty average at best. He is a very lazy defender and his work rate around the park doesn’t seem impressive. However I do not have any stats to back this and it is only my personal view.

    Sadie seems far more active in around the field so I think it will be Carlu (and the Lions) who come out on top. The Stormers will be woeful this year due to poor coaching and even poorer management structures as well as all the fighting going on. Sadly, I suspect all the Stormers players who are in their final season before heading abroad will just be going through the motions instead of looking to leave on a high. With the limited game plan they currently possess on both attack and defence, none of them will be covered in glory.

    Sure I may sound like one of the pessimists, specially after only one round, but I don’t see the same issues they have had for the last 3 years being corrected in a single week. Prepare for the same old uninspired drivel from the Stormers, with the Lions producing a complete performance.

    • Barry

      Agreed STC (Thank goodness you don’t like in Durban – some May be sensitive to the acronym)!

      We should not need to apologies for being critical of mediocrity! It is only through frank and constructive comment that progress can be made!

      • boyo

        100% Barry

        A team that is building and improving can get away with a lot but this is a team that is going backwards and people need to be accountable.

  • SweetAz

    Have the Stormers actually appointed a coaching team yet????I see Fleckie flapping his lips but I don’t recall a coaching team being appointed,—-maybe it was so low key it just flew under the radar.

    • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

      Nope. Not yet … Well, officially that is … Laker defence. Dobson breakdown. Snyman skills/backs. Winter forwards

    • Barry

      Checking with Remgro, sure to be clarity soon.lol

      • Tank Lanning Tank Lanning

        The only thing Remgro are checking is to see when that EFT from WP lands … They are out, and focusing on their real rugby investment – the Bulls!!! Perhaps that in itself tells a story :)

        • John Comyn

          Barry is pretty much convinced that Johann Rupert is paying-off Rassie Erasmus to pick players from the WP franchise. I have suggested he gets the Zondo commission to look into it!

          • John Comyn

            For crying out loud Barry do you really think Rassie is being dictated to based on provincialism? I also don’t think Willemse has done enough to get near making the Bok side. Rassie clearly does but I am sure it is his choice. Willemse would not make my Stormers 23 man squad for the Lions game. National coaches have always had a few bolters that make sense to nobody. They often look to players they believe they know and can work with.

          • Barry

            John, you really need to concentrate – I have suggested that WPRU and SA Rugby are doing whatever they can to keep their Creditor sweet, in the interests of survival, not the other way around.

            Have a frothy if you will, but it just makes too much sense and helps explain some very odd decisions and selections made.

            Run through the Damian Willemse SR stats for 2018 and then explain how he made Springbok selection? It just doesn’t add up. However, maybe consider for a moment that he was schooled and sponsored by Caroline Rupert!

            I hope your not going to need me to draw a picture again?

          • boyo

            Do you think players like Nel were picked on merit? My word he is awful! Its a cape cabal running rugby in SA and most fans see that.

            I just wonder who the next WP captain coach combo will be for the boks. the last couple have done great.

  • Barry

    No John, I don’t think Erasmus is being dictated to specifically on Provincial grounds, but yes I do believe that he is being leaned on by his bosses to assist in what is a very tenuous position for them with one of their major creditors. Its pretty simple really and probably what I would be forced to do if I faced their circumstances!

    Though it presents to supporters as some sort of Provincial Bias, the reality is that the powers that be are merely doing what they can to keep the wolves at bay. It may not sit well, but in reality they probably see it as acting in the best interests of Rugby and they are probably right! Its just business and we’d be naive to see it as anything else!

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