The Quirk

SupeRugby Mid-competition review


Written by Ryan Quirk (The Quirk)

Posted in :Original Content, Super Rugby on 11 May 2011 at 09:27
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Now that we’re just over halfway through the competition I’d like to review what has happened and just where all the teams are at this point, as I see it, whilst comparing that to where I thought they’d be at the beginning of the season, and I guess I should go according to log position, since it would otherwise just be a bit of a mess…

The log as it stands after week 12 looks like this…

1. Blues 11 9 1 1 1 288 215 73 5 47
2. Reds 11 9 2 0 1 318 208 110 5 45
3. Stormers 10 8 2 0 2 233 142 91 3 43
4. Crusaders 11 8 2 1 1 336 179 157 6 44
5. Sharks 11 7 4 0 1 279 215 64 7 39
6. Waratahs 11 7 4 0 1 257 177 80 4 36
7. Highlanders 11 7 4 0 1 224 224 0 3 35
8. Bulls 10 5 5 0 2 240 257 -17 3 31
9. Chiefs 11 4 7 0 1 238 252 -14 5 25
10. Cheetahs 11 3 8 0 1 288 297 -9 9 25
11. Hurricanes 11 3 7 1 1 223 296 -73 6 24
12. Brumbies 10 2 8 0 2 217 307 -90 6 22
13. W.Force 11 3 7 1 1 223 307 -84 3 21
14. Rebels 11 3 8 0 1 206 383 -177 3 19
15. Lions 11 1 10 0 1 227 338 -111 6 14

The Blues have attained a consistency this season that they’ve lacked for a long time.  They’ve also learned to “win ugly”.  The only team to beat them this year has been the Sharks in Durban and they did it by not allowing the Aucklanders any space and keeping their dangerous backs out of the game. Keven Mealamu is a giant for them and with backs like Ranger, McCallister, Smokin Joe and company they will challenge right until the end.

Player to watch – Rene Ranger

The Reds have been one of the stand out side so far this year but I suspect that they will run of depth in key positions towards the end of the tournament.  If they can keep guys like Cooper, Genia, Iaone, Horwill and the Faingaa’s fit then they will challenge for the title but I think will ultimately fall short.

Player to watch – Quade Cooper

The Stormers have only lost to arguably the two best sides in the competition in the Reds and the Crusaders, which means they’re on course for the playoffs but are unlikely to progress further than that unless they learn to close out the big games which is something that they have battled to do of late having also lost two big finals in 2010.

Player to watch – Nick Koster

The Crusaders list of walking wounded is getting longer and longer.  They may have beaten the Stormers and the Sharks but are now without their first choice players in numerous positions, most recent being the excellent Israel Dagg.  They are still a mighty outfit with Sonny Bill running the show at 12 and Carter returning however, and should make the playoffs.

Player to watch – Sonny Bill WIlliams (obviously)

The Sharks have had an up and down season so far and their 5th place on the log is a fair reflection of where they are as a team.  They have been fortunate with injuries and still have most of their 1st choice players.  Their only real weakness is in the centres, but with Adi Jacobs showing some blistering form that may be a weakness no longer.  Sharks have a tough run in with two games against the Bulls who are lurking in 8th without really having hit their straps yet.

Player to watch – Willem Alberts

The Waratahs are always boring, but always effective.  Injuries have taken their toll on the New South Welsh but they are still competing as they always do.  In all honesty their team colour should be beige.

Player to watch – Kurtley Beale

In 7th we have the surprise package of the competition, The Highlanders, in previous seasons they’ve been lucky to win 3 games, generally against the Lions, Force and Cheetahs, but this year they have 7 wins already.  Unfortunately they seem to have run out of depth in Dunedin.  Injuries to key players like Slade, Brown, Poki and the inspirational Adam Thomson could derail their campaign towards the end.

Player to watch – Ben Smith

Rounding up the top 8 are The Bulls, who, despite having really not hit their straps, are sitting quite handily on the log.  With their tour over and players like Fourie du Preez, Wynand Olivier and Pierre Spies looking to get some form and Bjorn Basson scoring tries despite having no ball, they will be looking to spoil everyone else’s party.  It remains to be seen whether or not they get their spark back.

Player to watch – Bjorn Basson

The Chiefs have a habit of making a late season charge up the table and after their win against the high flying Highlanders it seems we’re in for more of the same.  They have top players back from injury with Stephen Donald (aka Dick Dastardly) and Richard Kahui sparking the dangerous back three.  Expect them to upset a lot of applecarts.

Player to watch – Liam Messam

The Cheetahs have been plagued by injuries this year, yet they have been competitive in almost every game they’ve played, the Eberhson twins are making their mark in the big time and Ashley Johnson has impressed where last year he fell a bit short.  As with the Chiefs they have the potential to beat anyone on their day

Player to watch – Heinrich Brussow

The Hurricanes are experiencing possibly their worst season in Superugby history.  Their whole backline is injured and new coach Hammett is struggling to implement the game plan he wants, which is slightly at odds with the Canes run at all costs mentality. There is hope though, with Ma’a Nonu and Piri Weepu making their return from injury…

Player to watch – Aaron Cruden

The Brumbies too are struggling.  Currently in 12th with only two wins all season they’re staring down the barrel of a major failure.  Captain Elsom is injured and the rest of the team has lost the cleverness they once had when they were a force to be reckoned with.  Matt Giteau seems to be fighting a lone battle.

Player to watch – Colby Faingaa

The Western Force are in familiar territory, the bottom three, but now have the Rebels to look down on as the worst Australian team.   James o Connor and Nathan Sharpe have been great as you’d expect and their loose forwards top class, unfortunately they just don’t have the right players in the rest of the team to compete regularly.

Player to watch – David Pocock

The Rebels are the newest franchise to join Superugby and are struggling just as everyone expected they would.  They’ve won more games than the Brumbies though and that is quite something.  Their pre-season poster-child has turned into a poster-child for self destruction though with Cipriani proving just what a plonker he is.

Player to watch – Ged Robinson

And finally, the Lions.  What can one say about the Lions?  With one win, and most recently a drubbing at the hands of the only team they’ve managed to beat, they are really looking a sad, unmotivated excuse for a professional outfit.  John Mitchell has failed to instil a winning culture with his bombastic and abrasive attitude.  Butch James has joined them; perhaps some leadership will get them a win.

Player to watch – The Bearded Menace – Josh Strauss.



48 Comments

  • Hopefully the sharks can thrash the bulls and weather the storm against the cheetahs and we should be fine for a play off spot in the top 2

  • Comment 1, posted at 11.05.11 10:21:20 by Poisy Reply
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    PoisyTeam captain
     
  • Like this article.

    But isn`t Koster injured now?

  • Comment 2, posted at 11.05.11 10:26:24 by Original Pierre Reply
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    Original PierreSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Poisy (Comment 1) : Agree. Sharks have used their allocation of lost games for the season. The rest have to be won if they want a decent shot at the title. The players have to lift it a level, the end is nigh.

  • Comment 3, posted at 11.05.11 10:29:24 by waje Reply

    Under 21 player
     
  • The Lions should get some old Transvaal player like Pienaar, Wiese and Henry le Roux to go coach the team. Guys that have played and bled for the jersey and that knows what the Lion’s traditional culture is about. None of the current Lions players are playing for the jersey and not even for their coach or team mates. Plus having a coach saying that he wishes for better players, can’t do much for your confidence as a player.

  • Comment 4, posted at 11.05.11 10:30:06 by KingRiaan Reply

    KingRiaanTeam captain
     
  • @waje (Comment 3) :what happens if lambie gets injured again? We seem to be lost without him

  • Comment 5, posted at 11.05.11 10:33:07 by Poisy Reply
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    PoisyTeam captain
     
  • @Poisy (Comment 5) : Monty DuMond!!!

  • Comment 6, posted at 11.05.11 10:35:17 by Original Pierre Reply
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    Original PierreSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Original Pierre (Comment 6) : best joke I’v heard all season :P

  • Comment 7, posted at 11.05.11 10:36:44 by Poisy Reply
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    PoisyTeam captain
     
  • @Poisy (Comment 5) : The remaining teams we play don’t play the expansive rugby that hurt the Sharks earlier this season. As much as Jacques Louis Potgieter hurt the Sharks with his poor boot, he is a quality player. He has already created two great tries this season, while Pat Lambie has battled to create much. I would actually look at bringing Jacques Louis Potgieter at inside center, as he did well there last year for the Bulls.

  • Comment 8, posted at 11.05.11 10:40:51 by waje Reply

    Under 21 player
     
  • @waje (Comment 8) : well he might create a try or 2 but doesn’t help if you always behind because of his boot,he kicked fine against province for the sharks xv but gosh I don’t know what happens when his at super 15 level

  • Comment 9, posted at 11.05.11 10:44:44 by Poisy Reply
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    PoisyTeam captain
     
  • @Poisy (Comment 7) : I aim to please! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    But we killed the bulls with him before haven`t we?

  • Comment 10, posted at 11.05.11 10:46:58 by Original Pierre Reply
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    Original PierreSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Original Pierre (Comment 10) : at currie cup level boet ,this is different

  • Comment 11, posted at 11.05.11 10:50:06 by Poisy Reply
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    PoisyTeam captain
     
  • @Poisy (Comment 9) : Pat Lambie’s boot was not great last year, but he has sorted it out. I think Jacques Louis Potgiter will sort it out sooner rather than later.

    @Original Pierre (Comment 10) : Yes, but he had Morne Steyn and Pierre Spies inside him then. Even Sonny Bill Williams would look average with those players inside him. :lol:

  • Comment 12, posted at 11.05.11 10:52:44 by waje Reply

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  • @Poisy (Comment 11) : Agreed, back in the CC Spies was still on his forbidden substances and in shape, this year however hehehehe

  • Comment 13, posted at 11.05.11 10:55:06 by Original Pierre Reply
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    Original PierreSuper Rugby player
     
  • @Original Pierre (Comment 13) : lmfao ;)

  • Comment 14, posted at 11.05.11 11:00:43 by Poisy Reply
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    PoisyTeam captain
     
  • @Original Pierre (Comment 2) : I wrote it before the news broke about Koster’s injury…

  • Comment 15, posted at 11.05.11 11:11:32 by The Quirk Reply
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    The QuirkVodacom Cup player
     
  • @waje (Comment 8) : Eh? Did I read that right? “While Pat Lambie has battled to create much?” Could you please qualify that statement for me?

  • Comment 16, posted at 11.05.11 19:10:17 by SharonvanWyk Reply
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    ShazCurrie Cup player
     
  • @waje (Comment 12) : There you go again… “Pat Lambie’s boot was not great last year…” Um, excuse me, but did you actually watch the Currie Cup final? Explain, s’il vous plait… :roll:

  • Comment 17, posted at 11.05.11 19:12:54 by SharonvanWyk Reply
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    ShazCurrie Cup player
     
  • @waje (Comment 12) : OK… Now I am confused. Are you saying that Morne Steyn and Pierre Spies would make Sonny Bill Williams look average? Aish. I am flabbergasted. There really is no proper, ladylike retort to a comment like that other than…. PISH. :lol:

  • Comment 18, posted at 11.05.11 19:16:31 by SharonvanWyk Reply
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    ShazCurrie Cup player
     
  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 17) : In general, most agreed that Pat’s goalkicking was one of his few weaknesses in 2010, and an area for improvement. He had superb matches with the boot, but also missed some sitters right in front. Of course we must remember that last year was his first in senior rugby, and besides getting used to how the game is played at that level, he had to play three different positions over the course of the year, not settling at 10 until into the CC. His goalkicking is much improved this year, I expected nothing less, but his kicking was not nearly as good last year.

  • Comment 19, posted at 11.05.11 19:17:41 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 16) : I think that what we are seeing is something that is called Sophomore or Second year jinx in professional sport in the USA. In many sports, a superb player does extremely well in his/her first year, once the other teams start to figure them out, they usually have something of a down turn the second year. Usually though, their superior talent and athleticism allows them to overcome this second year jinx and once again dominate their sport. I think this may be happening to an extent with Pat Lambie. He will overcome, but I also have to admit that he has battled to be as creative this year as he was last year. He will come right though.

  • Comment 20, posted at 11.05.11 19:22:24 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • I’m sure I risk being ostracized after my previous two posts since Pat is considered something of a God now in Sharks country, and we all know Gods can do no wrong. :wink:

  • Comment 21, posted at 11.05.11 19:30:30 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 19) : Hey DB. How’s things?
    I know and accept everything you say. But most also accept that come Currie Cup final time, Pat’s kicking boot was firmly in place, albeit at the end of a tough first year in senior rugby, with sometimes average kicking performances (and let’s compare apples with apples in that respect and look at the equally average performances at other unions, with the exception of Morne who does nothing else but kick). Pat’s kicking came right steadily towards the end of Currie Cup, exponentially so as he settled into the flyhalf role. As a schoolboy player at fullback for Michaelhouse, he was nicknamed Pat the Punisher for his lethal ability to annihilate the opposition with his kicking skills. Good kicking has always been part of his pedigree. Much more so than it has for JLP.
    The crux of this particular line of argument is that waje feels that JLP will get his kicking right based on the fact that Pat did after his first season in senior rugby. I tend to disagree. JLP has considerably more experience in senior rugby and if his kicking isn’t where it needs to be now, I seriously doubt whether it ever will be.
    Good kicking is dependent on mindset and the ability to stay calm under intense pressure. I do not believe that JLP can handle that pressure and feel that’s the reason his kicking has let him down.

  • Comment 22, posted at 11.05.11 19:31:46 by SharonvanWyk Reply
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    ShazCurrie Cup player
     
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 21) : Not so. It’s widely accepted that I am something of a Pat fan (gross understatement) but am only too aware that he is only human.
    He had a couple of howlers and real blond moments on Saturday and is definitely nowhere near his peak. But even so, he just stands out head and shoulders above the rest in terms of sheer talent, flair and “presence” on the field.
    If you look at the Stormers match at Newlands, he was the only Sharks player to stand out. Even above the opposition. (Something Naas pointed out to me in a meeting this morning!)
    He’ll get through his second season with flying colours, I am sure. :razz:

  • Comment 23, posted at 11.05.11 19:37:47 by SharonvanWyk Reply
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    ShazCurrie Cup player
     
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 20) : Elton Jantjies is a great example of what you have just said there.

  • Comment 24, posted at 11.05.11 19:38:08 by Ben Reply
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  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 22) : Hiya Shaz, doing well over here, hope all is well with you. :smile:

    I can’t really argue with anything you have said, but also remember that Pat had a bit of a nightmare with his boot on the end of year tour, but again, let’s consider the circumstances. By my saying he was not as good with the boot last year as he has been so far this year is not intended in any way as a put down, in fact, in my opinion it is a positive. I believe that Pat identified this perceived weakness in his game and worked bloody hard during the off season to improve his kicking, and the results are there for all to see.

    I do agree with you about the pressure mindset that Pat seems to have, in fact, he seems to excel under pressure, great stuff, means he will be awesome for the Sharks and Boks for many years to come. For a young man to have that kind of mental toughness at his young age is impressive, and if he has it now, it will only grow stronger as he ages.

    Key I think is that saying Pat was not as good with the boot last year is not an insult of any sort, but rather a positive if one looks at the improvement this season. I do realize that he was coming right as the season progressed last year, but I am sure that is because he identified the weakness and as a true professional worked his butt off to eliminate any weakness.

  • Comment 25, posted at 11.05.11 19:38:16 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 23) : I couldn’t agree with you more there Shaz. Even a Pat Lambie not at his best, is still one of the best players for the Sharks and one of the best in SA, and yes, he does stand out for this reason.

  • Comment 26, posted at 11.05.11 19:39:53 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 26) : I watched him practice at Captain’s Run last Friday and he’s got SUCH a hunger in him it’s unbelievable. Exceedingly focused. :cool:

  • Comment 27, posted at 11.05.11 19:44:20 by SharonvanWyk Reply
    Author
    ShazCurrie Cup player
     
  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 27) : The focus is awesome to see in a young player. If a young professional player does not have hunger within them to play, they probably should look at another profession, but that singular focus usually only comes from experience, and our young Pat seems to have this gift.

  • Comment 28, posted at 11.05.11 20:04:53 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @SharonvanWyk (Comment 27) : Sorry for the slow response, got called into a short meeting. The nerve of my boss, taking time away from my Sharksworld. :lol:

  • Comment 29, posted at 11.05.11 20:05:59 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • After the rumours about Ruan coming back to play in SA, I started thinking how disappointed I was that we never got to see a 9/10 axis of Ruan and Pat at the Sharks. Now that would be one heck of a halfback pairing in my opinion.

  • Comment 30, posted at 11.05.11 20:11:46 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 30) : Would have, could have , should have. No really that would have been awesome!

  • Comment 31, posted at 11.05.11 20:15:17 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 31) : I wonder if there is still a chance it may happen? :?: :?:

  • Comment 32, posted at 11.05.11 20:21:14 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 32) : Not anytime soon I feel, maybe when he comes back from Ireland. For how long did he sign with Ulster again?

  • Comment 33, posted at 11.05.11 20:26:23 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 33) : I guess I was asking if the rumours that he is coming back to SA for the remainder of the SupeRugby season (Bulls or Stormers), is true, and if so, is there a possibility he may come back to the Sharks. My understanding is that Ulster will not release him until he signs a contract extension. I believe his contract was for 2 years.

  • Comment 34, posted at 11.05.11 20:28:53 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 34) : Yip I thought that was pretty much what you meant. That’s why I said anytime soon. Really doesn’t make any sense that if he came back now on load that he wouldn’t want to come to the Sharks. Did we stuff him around that much?

  • Comment 35, posted at 11.05.11 20:32:05 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 35) : No, the only stuffing around he received was that he was moved between 10 and 9 in last year’s Super 14, but he should understand that Goode was poor, and Ruan was our only hope. When he wanted to leave for Ulster, the Sharks released him from his contract early and wished him all the best, definitely did not stuff him around. In general that has happened with most Sharks that wanted to take up a contract in Europe, they were not stopped by the Sharks, and most have said if or when they return to SA they would like it to be with the Sharks.

  • Comment 36, posted at 11.05.11 20:35:25 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 36) : Yip so did Butch. If I’m not mistaken he said he’ll never play for any province in SA other than the Sharks in SA. Look how that turned out. I guess money speaks louder than words.

  • Comment 37, posted at 11.05.11 20:47:18 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 37) : hehehe alright point taken!

  • Comment 38, posted at 11.05.11 20:51:13 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • Of course with Lambie being a revelation at 10, and with JLP and Bosman on the roles, there really was not a place for Butch with the Sharks. The Lions on the “udder” hand, have seen a severe drop in performance from EJ, and none of their other options, Pretorius, etc have set the world alight either. Definitely think the Lions could use Butch, and he would probably not even make the match 22 for the Sharks.

  • Comment 39, posted at 11.05.11 20:57:13 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 39) : Have to agree with you. Can’t see how the sharks would have used him. He has also become somewhat of a penalty machine this last season in England. And I don’t mean penalties from his boot over the goal posts. :)

  • Comment 40, posted at 11.05.11 21:05:43 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 40) : Butch has always carried that tag. I have not seen his play this season in England, so really can’t say if this is different from the past or not. He still has a reputation for those no arms tackles, I’m sure referees watch him a little closer than other players. I don’t know if you know this, but Butch has a tendency to close his eyes immediately before impact when making a tackle, I think this causes him to have poor tackling form. Boy can hit hard though!

  • Comment 41, posted at 11.05.11 21:09:51 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 41) : Oh yes he can hit hard! A certain tackle on Australia’s Stirling springs to mind from a couple of years ago. Well probably he was the toast of Bath last year. Had a great season. This year not as much.

  • Comment 42, posted at 11.05.11 21:23:20 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 42) : I think he was poor in 2009 as well. Perhaps he is only good every other year. :lol:

  • Comment 43, posted at 11.05.11 21:25:00 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 43) : Darn couldn’t the WC have been next year? :)

  • Comment 44, posted at 11.05.11 21:33:24 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 44) : :lol: yeah, he got all screwed up when he went to the Northern Hemisphere, he was great in 2007, but switching summer for winter seems to have messed up his internal playing clock. :lol:

  • Comment 45, posted at 11.05.11 21:37:19 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 45) : Maybe just maybe when he gets back here and its winter his clocks will turn back or forward a year and he’ll be awesome! :)

  • Comment 46, posted at 11.05.11 21:41:44 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 46) : Perhaps with the Boks, not much chance of that at the Lions though. :lol: I am and always have been a huge Butch fan, even when he was going through his years of injury. His distribution skills are sublime, and very underrated I think.

  • Comment 47, posted at 11.05.11 22:00:20 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 47) : Always were my fav player at the Sharks untill he left. I was heart broken! :) Yes his distrubution skills are awesome. And then he has that special no look passes that he throws! :)

  • Comment 48, posted at 11.05.11 22:04:50 by Ben Reply
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