5 things to know about 6th round of Super Rugby
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Five things to know about the sixth round of Super Rugby:
WELCOME BACK COBBER — Former All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino will likely make his first Super Rugby appearance in three years after being named on the bench by the Auckland-based Blues for Saturday’s match against the Cheetahs. Kaino played more minutes than any other player at the 2011 World Cup then left New Zealand to play for two years in Japan. He has now returned, eager to reclaim his All Blacks jersey and will share the bench with All Blacks center Ma’a Nonu, who is back with the Blues after a one-year absence. “Everyone’s expecting me to be that player who left after the World Cup and I’m going to strive to put out as good a performance as I can,” Kaino said.
REDS LOSE TO WHITE BUT AREN’T BLUE — After losing last week to a Sharks team under former ACT Brumbies coach Jake White, the Queensland Reds are bracing for a fresh challenge when they take on the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday. Conditions in Durban during the Sharks match were so humid, Queensland players lost a combined total of 60 kilograms in body weight. They now face the challenge of taking on the Lions at altitude on South Africa’s High Veldt and have spent the last week in Johannesburg acclimatizing. “The altitude’s probably the main thing training-wise that you have to adapt to and it’s just a different place,” Reds flanker Eddie Quirk said.
A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH — The Western Force will post three wins in a row for the first time in seven years if they beat defending champions the Chiefs in Perth on Saturday. The Force held on with only 13 players on the field in the last eight minutes to beat the Highlanders last week and to post back-to-back wins for the first time since 2011. Lock Wilhelm Steenkamp, who won a Super Rugby title with South Africa’s Bulls, said the Force will face the two-time champion Chiefs with confidence. “We’re in a great position,” he said. “But it’s only two wins out of four games — 50 per cent at the moment. “We are not thinking about playoffs or anything like that. “he past two weeks have shown the quality of players the Force have.”
THORN IN THE SIDE — Dual international Brad Thorn will return to the Highlanders’ starting lineup for their clash with the Hurricanes on Friday, which opens the weekend’s sixth round. Thorn has been sidelined since round one when he suffered a rib cartilage injury while playing against the Auckland-based Blues. The 39-year-old Thorn who played rugby league for Australia before making 59 test appearances for the All Blacks, said the injury had come right with time. “There was a day there where it clunked back into place,” he said. “It was very painful and I was very scared that I was going to sneeze.”
I’LL BE BACK — Former captain David Pocock says he’s determined to play for the Wallabies at next year’s World Cup and to repay the ACT Brumbies for their patience through his last two seasons which have been wrecked by injuries. Pocock will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing his second total knee reconstruction but says he expects to return “better than before. There are no sure things in sport but I’ll do everything I can to get back there. I came to Canberra for a new challenge and a change and it’s been that. I’ve loved everything about it ... apart from the injuries.”