For a while I’ve been thinking about the situation of the NZRU resting 22 players next year, in preparation for the world cup. Answering a question over at Yahoo! Answers made me put my thoughts together enough to make a post.
Some have said that the lack of All Blacks in the competition will negatively affect the quality of rugby next year. I think this is utter rubbish. I think next year’s super 14 will be extremely interesting to watch. I agree with someone’s comments (Grant Fox?) that because the ‘playing field’ has been levelled, the competition will be a lot closer.
We’ve seen this in recent years, where the absence of the AB’s at the beginning of the comp, makes every game a competition, not just the Crusaders vs Wellington games.
In order to try and pick how teams will be affected by their loss of All Blacks, it’s interesting to look at which teams are doing well in the Air New Zealand Cup.
The top six teams are all ‘franchise’ super 14 teams, except for North Harbour who sit in second place.
Canterbury sit in 5th place, and the board is almost an inversion of the final placing of the NZ teams in the Super 14 (2006):
So, what am I saying? I’m saying that it may be the Blue’s year in the Super 14.
The blues will lose Kevin Mealamu, Ali Williams, Tony Woodcock and Joe Rokocoko.
With the depth in the Auckland and North Harbour ANC teams this year, these will easily be replaced, while other teams may suffer.
Maybe it’s a good year to buy a season pass to Eden Park.
In the meantime, go Harbour!