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Australian Conference Preview 2018

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BYE WEEKS
Round 3: Bulls, Rebels
Round 4: Force, Stormers
Round 5: Chiefs, Hurricanes
Round 6: Brumbies, Jaguares, Kings, Sunwolves
Round 7: Cheetahs, Crusaders, Lions, Rebels
Round 8: Force, Highlanders, Sharks, Waratahs
Round 9: Blues, Reds
Round 10: Bulls, Hurricanes
Round 11: Brumbies, Kings
Round 12: Chiefs, Stormers, Sunwolves, Waratahs
Round 13: Jaguares, Reds
Round 16: Blues, Crusaders, Highlanders
Round 16: Cheetahs, Lions, Sharks
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We believe that the Australian Conference is by far the easiest conference is the competition this year. The Force are now gone(RIP) and most of their top players have moved to Rebels and few to some of the other franchises. They have now gained the Sunwolves and each them gets to play them twice. That said the Sunwolves did put on some good home performances but are much weaker away from home.

Again, in order of highest finishing Australian teams:

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The Brumbies have Pocock back from his sebatical which is a great bbost for them at the breakdown as he was arguably the best 7 in the world. Unfortunately he is sidelined already.. Christian Leali’ifano has made a miraculous recovery and will be a great addition to the Brumbies machine.  They yet again somehow managed to finish as the top Aussie Teams in 2017 and were knocked out in the quarterfinals by the Hurricanes at home. They’ve got some good young players, but losing Scott Fardy, Tomas Cubelli, Jordan Smiler and Jarrad Butler is not great for their depth. I think it’s very telling that there’s not one player over $400k…

Image result for 4 stars no background– David Pocock- We all know what he is capable of… Priced at 300K is slightly cheaper than his average of 34.5 points. CAn he return to his form of old?He’s not starting this season as he has a niggle but is definitely one for the watch list.

Image result for 4 stars no background– Kuridrani $300k should be a lock for a top 50 spot if he maintains his form from last year. I expect the Brumbies will lean a lot on him in attack, and there is some risk that opposing team focus on him to shut him down. At $300k he’s better priced than last year as he averaged 36-37 point in his last 5 games of the season. With the Brumbies facing an easy opening game perhaps he’s worth a starting spot in week 1.  The other man who should push 4 stars is Josh Mann-Rea $189k. Assuming he locks down the starting point, and given the points hookers can get, he could be great value this price tag.

Image result for 3 stars – This is an interesting bucket, as there’s some value here. If Isi Naisarani  $315K and Chance Peni $223k can lock down starting spots at number 8 on the wing respectively, they might be worth a spot on your bench. Kyle Godwin $261k has got good super rugby pedigree.

– Whoever replaces Kyle Godwin at centre. He won’t set the world alight, but had a solid average at the Force(May they rest in Peace) and it’s most likely going to score way better at the Brumbies.

 – Henry Speight $254k His average is poor from last year but against a team like the Reds or the Sunwolves can score a hatrick. Priced at $254k he could be a steal for a run of Brumbies home games, especially as the opener is against The Sunwolves.

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By their own high standards the Waratahs were disappointing last season and didn’t make the playoffs. They’ve still go a strong enough squad to be the best Australian team but have lost a few big names Dean Mumm ,Will Skelton, David Horwitz and Rob Horne.  I expect them to improve slightly this year. Rob Simmons and Kurtley Beale are great additions to their squad. Unbelievably Beale is still the right side of 30…

Image result for 5 stars no background– Israel Folau $552k is a fantasy GOD. I thought he was hit and miss last season to start with but still scored 9 tries last season and ended the season with a 63,5 point average for the last 5 games. Such is his ability to turn nothing into something very special that he could be sitting on 9 points 70+ minutes into the game and then one break, step, tackle bust, and a 50 yard try later, he’s one of the weeks top point scorers. At $552k he is PRICEY but can you afford not to have him? Michael Hooper $375k should just squeeze into the Top 20 again as well. He suffered a little from the Tahs not being on top of their game last year, but his work rate around the park, and influence in the loose and off set-piece moves is a real game changer. He’s so hard not to pick…

Image result for 4 stars no backgroundBernard Foley $453k averaged over 46 in his last 5 games of 2017. With Beale back I think you’d have to say this can only be a good thing for him. I do however think he priced pretty high this season compared to last season. He is one of my personal favourites and when he’s on form makes massive points.

Image result for 4 stars no backgroundKurtley Beale 485K at centreI could give him 3 or 5 stars. He’s an incredible player when he’s on form and when he’s out of form can be terrible at times. A massive natural talent, had a great time at Wasps scoring 5 tries and setting up a boat load more. Apart from form, he’s price puts me off for now. One to watch though and could be the difference between the Tahs having a great or average season!

 

Image result for 3 stars – Assuming Kepu $220k  averaging almost 40 points in his last 3 games last season. He is a must in my book if you can afford him. He’s not starting the season either apparently so on the watch list he goes for now.

Jed Holloway  £155K had a poor season last year but a phenomenal season the year before. His price tag and lack of choice number 8s in Tahs pack makes him a great bargain.  If you need to buy a cheap player in your backrow this gamble and I mean gamble could pay off with a solid 30 points per week.

 – Will Miller the boy from the farm, priced at $140K. The ‘Pooper 2.0 ‘ if this is unleashed could be formidable but can Hooper and Miller play in the same side? IF the Tahs can make this work they’ll be formidable at the breakdown in 2018. Maybe he can play at 8, who knows…

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The Rebels have spent some serious money in bringing in some excellent players.  The likes of Adam Coleman, Geoff Parling, Dane Haylett-Petty, Billy Meakes, Matt Philip, Henry Hutchison and Will Genia have added a lot of experience and depth to some key position in their team. They have lost Sean McMahon who is huge blow to the backrow. It remains to be seem if they can gel together in 2018.  Their pre-season hasn’t been great so far, getting comfortably beaten by the Tahs and the Brumbies. They have a lot of potential though but maybe this year is just too soon for them to push above 3rd in this conference.

Image result for 5 stars no backgroundAmanaki Mafi $559k – A Superb player, which for backrows translates into fantasy points. Given the amount of tackling he has to do for the Rebels he’s usually a pretty consistent point scorer as well as the runs he puts in. The only issue is that price tag its $359K more than what he was priced at, at the start on the 2017 season.

Image result for 4 stars no background– Dane Haylett-Petty $304k had a pretty average super rugby season in 2017, has moved to a new club which I think most of us would agree is a great move for him. He should score way more than his 28 point average of last season. He’s priced pretty fairly and if you need to save a bit on your OBKs may prove to be a great option.

Image result for 4 stars no background– Reece Hodge $275k is a lock for Top 50 if he kicks again this season. He single handedly carried the Rebels backline at times last season and seems to be cementing down the inside centre spot. His strong running and ability with the boot make him one of the best options for centre (yes, that’s right Bossman, I’m having to admit Hodge is the real deal now).

Image result for 4 stars no backgroundMarika Koroibete $420K  averaged over points last season and with Genie in the side as well as Dane I believe he’ll be able to maintain those scores. He started of at a mere $112K last year. He’s going on the watch list for me and if the Rebels get their stuff together I’ll be looking to pick him against some weak opposition.

Image result for 3 stars –  Adam Coleman $239k now the captain of Rebels should safely end up here even if the Rebels struggle again. He seems like a player who is just getting better and better. His discipline last year was an issue at times so hopefully the captains armband makes him more conscience of this.

Tom English $188k – He’s been there for a long time, averages over 25 points a game and again with all the talent around him will at least score the same. A great pick for your bench.

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The Reds were a mess last year and for the most part couldn’t get anything going. Scott Higginbottom is now captain and they have lost Stephen Moore. They face the Rebels first and I cant see them beating them. I think they will beat the Sunwolves and maybe the Rebels at home only. There have been no real promising signings Lance and Aidan Toua… Quade has been disgarded and to be fair I dont see what the fuss is about, he had a terrible season last year. Things dont look good for the Reds in 2018.

Image result for 5 stars no background– Samu Kerevi $463k- The man’s a beast and he’s priced at a beastly amount. He is a fantasy GOD at centre and if you don’t believe me just ask Feastjuice as he failed to pick him last season and got burnt. The question isn’t should you have him, it’s when and how you try to get him in?

Image result for 4 stars no backgroundScott Higginbotham $304k is a great player in the loose, with has a nose for the line.  Realistically I think he’ll be borderline 3 stars but will be pushing for a place in The Australian set-up as the world cup is just over a year away.  He averages just of 30 points per game and might do a but more than that this year.

Karmichael Hunt $180k – similar in a great number of ways.  Hunt, has raw talent and improved a lot last season in some of his performances and in other he ended up with minus points… That experience should stand him in good stead this year, and with a better team ahead of him he’s got more upside. He’s also listed at centre and probably playing full back so an excellent option for the bench.

 – Taniela Tupou $198K ‘The Tongan Thor’ He’s a powerful player and if he gets loads of ball could be a formidable prop scoring around 30 points per game. He’s is teamed up with James Slipper so if you have cash he might be worth a punt.

 

sunwolves logo

I really like the Sunwolves and hope they finish 3rd or 4th in this conference but I just cant see it happening in 2018. I guess it doesn’t help that I don’t know about their players and the league over in Japan. Most of this is based on my knowledge of the players playing for Japan.Rugby is growing and growing in Japan and at some point The Sunwolves will come good. The question in when?They have made a quite a lot of new signings and are in the easiest conference this year which will help them a lot. I’ll be cheering them on every week unless they play the Stormers at some point.

Image result for 4 stars no backgroundAkihito Yamada $360K Japan’s top try scorer is back. He was fantastic in the 2016 Super Rugby Season in which he averaged over 40 points a game. He is someone to keep a really close eye on especially when the Sunwolves play the likes of The Rebels or The Reds in Tokyo.

Image result for 3 starsWillie Britz $311K has been their standout player last year and I foresee him doing so again this year. He is involved in everything and scores a few tries of his own. With Michael Leitch playing next to him now this can only improve the Sunwolves in my opinion.

Image result for 3 starsMichael Leitch – Did well as the Chiefs but didn’t start all the time, at the Sunwolves I reckon he’ll get way more game time and should be a regular 30 points a game backrow player. He’s also very affordable and at the very least one to add to watchlist.

Harumichi Tatekawa $245K postioned at centre is probably the Sunwolves most naturally talented player. With over 50 appearence for Japan and an average of over 35 points in his last 3 games of last season. He could be the wildcard pick of the 2018 season.

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