Highlanders vs Chiefs (Saturday 8am, Sky Sports Action, Main Event); Blues vs Hurricanes (Sunday 4.30am, Sky Sports Action, Main Event; repeat 10am, Sky Sports Action)
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 12/06/20 3:28pm
Ahead of Super Rugby Aotearoa, live on Sky Sports this weekend, Rugby World Cup and Super Rugby winner Israel Dagg shares tales and anecdotes about some of the biggest names in New Zealand rugby…
Speaking as a guest on this week’s Will Greenwood Podcast and alongside Sean Fitzpatrick and Michael Lynagh, Dagg chatted Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Dan Carter, Warren Gatland, Brodie Retallick, Cory Jane and more.
Sunday’s live Super Rugby Aotearoa clash between the Blues and Hurricanes, sees the headline transfer of many seasons, Beauden Barrett, make his Blues debut against his old side Hurricanes. Here’s Dagg on that game, TJ Perenara’s plans to stop Barrett, plus a line on Dan Carter joining the Blues…
“There’s going to be a lot of heat in that game, obviously with Beauden playing his first game for the Blues up against his old team-mates TJ [Perenara], Ardie [Savea], Dane Coles.
“There’s been so much chat around the last few days about what is going to happen when those guys meet on the field.
“I actually spoke to TJ today and I said: ‘Mate, what are you going to do? What’s your first move?’
“And he said: ‘I’m just going to aim right for his sternum, and really belt him’, so I just can’t wait!
“I know there’s a sold-out stadium at Eden Park, and a sold-out Eden Park is probably the best stadium to play in, it’s unbelievable.
“It’s built for a cracker, with old Dan Carter as well! He’ll be waltzing around the stands, signing autographs for kids.
“I’m excited and can’t wait!”
New rules and Cory Jane
Within New Zealand for this competition, there will be a series of new rules laid out. If a match ends in a draw after 80 minutes, two further periods of five minutes – termed Super Time – will be played with the first team to score taking the win.
More controversially, teams will be able to replace red-carded players after 20 minutes. NZR National Referee Managers Bryce Lawrence also said existing laws at breakdown would be applied but would be policed more strictly to ensure a faster attacking game and fairer contest.
Here’s Dagg on that and with an anecdote about former team-mate Cory Jane…
“I spoke to my mate Cory Jane, who’s actually the defence coach for the Hurricanes, and he’s absolutely spewing because Fozzy’s [Ian Foster, New Zealand head coach] come in with these new rules, and he’s said: ‘if we get pumped by 70, that’s my job gone!’
“So it’ll be interesting to see how it goes! There was a big statement by Justin Marshall, and I agree: we don’t want to see a penalty fest at the start of these games, because the refs are going to come in and try and lay down a foundation.
“People don’t want to see 40 penalties a game, so there is a balancing act here.
“But we needed change and it’s exciting times. I’m looking forward to it.”
Beauden Barrett at the Blues
Here’s Dagg on Barrett at the Blues….
“He’s good. I’m heading up to Auckland tomorrow and actually will be staying at his house for the weekend!
“He’s loving it. He’s loving the challenge, and his wife is from Auckland, so it was really a no-brainer for him to go there and help her be close to her family and have that support, they’re just having a new child at the moment, she’s pregnant.
“His parents live quite close, and I think he’s really enjoying it. I’ve heard whispers he’s gone in and not said too much.
“A big dog might go in and start blurting the way, but he’s just sat back, started to find his feet and then he’s adding bits here and there.
“This week is where he’ll probably show most of his voice and start leading from the front.
“Obviously DC’s [Dan Carter] come in, but I think he [Barrett] would have told DC: ‘Mate, it’s my time now, get in line and wait behind me. I’ve waited behind you for 10 years, get in line!”
Warren Gatland at the Chiefs
Having coached Wales between 2007 and 2019, Warren Gatland is back home in New Zealand now and in charge of the Chiefs.
Here’s Dagg on Gatland at the Chiefs…
“The Chiefs will continue doing what they’re doing. I think Gats has come down here and he’s been received very well.
“I’ve never been coached by him but what I hear is he just creates an environment that the boys love.
“They love going there, and he’s good at keeping all his players involved. It would be easy for him to just roll out the same team every week, but he’s giving guys opportunities.
“This week, Kaleb Trask from Bay of Plenty is playing No 10 in front of Aaron Cruden, in his first game for the Chiefs and up against the Highlanders. That just shows the faith that Gats has in his squad.
“And you need your whole squad to be able to perform and win this competition, it’s going to be bruising.”
Brodie Retallick turning down the Chiefs
2014’s World Rugby Player of the Year Brodie Retallick, one of the finest All Black players of any era, has caused something of a stir recently.
Having signed a contract to play in Japan following the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Retallick’s plans were scuppered when that contract was cancelled in the Far East due to Covid-19.
When former club the Chiefs offered him a contract to come back and play Super Rugby Aotearoa, however, Retallick declined the offer in favour of recuperation.
Here’s Dagg on Retallick…
“I haven’t heard any chat about it to be honest. I’d heard he’d denied the Chiefs call, but that Gats agreed with him.
“He said: ‘Look mate, play only if you’re up to it’, he didn’t throw him under the bus and act all disappointed, he actually understood what he was trying to do.
“I don’t really know his [Retallick] personal reasons, but I know he wants to get a few more years out of his body, and the way he plays, he throws everything into it, even in training – he’s an absolute grub in training.
“I think for him this is more about six or seven years of grinding – Super Rugby, World Cup. It’s a great opportunity for him to take a break, look after his body, so that he might get an extra six or seven years out of the game, which I think is fair enough.
“Obviously Sam Whitelock went and did the opposite [contract in Japan fell through, so he re-signed with the Crusaders], but that’s Sam, he’ll go for years!”
The Hurricanes and Ardie Savea
Dagg on the Hurricanes and Ardie Savea…
“Ardie Savea is coming back from injury and I hear he’s playing No 8, which is interesting.
“I think he’s a bloody great No 8, because he’s quick off the back of a scrum, he’ll have a bit more open-running, and that’s where he’s dynamic.
“They’ve lost Jordie Barrett I hear, he’s out to injury, so that’s a big loss for the Canes because before lockdown I think he was playing his most consistent rugby. He was tackling well, he was kicking goals from everywhere, and it just felt like as soon as Beauden Barrett left, it was a breath of fresh air for him because he can be the leader he’s destined to be.
“But the Hurricanes are extremely pumped, and they’re still a solid side. At the start of the season I thought they would struggle, because they lost in Cape Town to the Stormers 27-0 and were terrible.
“But they’ve started getting on a roll. They know they’ve got the goods to win.”
The Crusaders this season
And lastly, here’s Dagg on his former club Crusaders – the reigning three-time champions…
“They have to be favourites and the team to beat, and not just because I played for them and my heart lies with them.
“I think before the lockdown, they know what it takes to win and how to win championship matches – that’s what these games are going to be like.
“They’ve got the squad to do the deeds. They’ve got a back-line which is a Ferrari and a forward pack which is a Rolls Royce – they’ve got it all.
“I know playing other teams and talking to players from other teams – I’d have a lot of friends in other teams – they absolutely hate the Crusaders.
“They never say why, but they just hate them with a passion. People have something against them, so they will come out full guns blazing.
“But the Crusaders are the side to beat.”
Source : Sky Sports