I simply cannot wait.
I was never a big fan of the sevens and although it IS rugby, I know that Fiji’s dominance in the abbreviated code is over. Actually, it’s been over for a long while now.
Therefore, I simply cannot wait for the start of the Super Rugby season.
Most of my mates support NZ and Aus teams and I have to put up with their good-natured ribbing. You see, I have always supported the Stormers. It’s uncommon for a Fijian to support a non-Tasman-Sea team side and I revel in my individuality.
I’ve been a hardcore Stormers fan even from when they went by their original name, Western Province. The days of lanky Pieter Rossow, solid Bob Skinstad, pacy Breyton Paulse and captain courageous Corne Krige with pretty boy Percy Montgomery.
Then a Fijian joined the ranks. Sireli Naqelevuki broke new ground by being the first (and so far, the only) Fijian rugger to play for a South African side.
And then my favourite Bokke crossed over from Pretoria to join the team and I thought that they had the makings of a champion side. With Bryan Habana joining Messrs de Villiers and Burger in leading the side I felt nothing could compete with the talent and experience they had.
But as always, those blokes from Christchurch really know how to kill a fan’s spirit. The Crusaders have shown over and over again why they are THE best club side in the world and I doubt there is any other provincial side in the world that can match them. Sure they lose now and again, but in the grand scheme of things, if you ever wanted to play professional rugby, the Canterbury based franchise would be the best place to hone your craft. The Crusaders outfit exude an air of professionalism and downright heart when they take the field and one would have to certifiable to bet against them in most cases.
In 2012, I have connections to three Fiji boys playing in the competition this year so my loyalties are going to be divided and tested.
My cousin Maritino Nemani is playing his first year at the Chiefs and looks to have a good go this year. However, he will have a lot of competition in order to secure a winger/fullback berth as he has to contend with Declan O’Donnell, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Robbie Robinson, Tim Nanai-Williams and Lelia Masaga. He has had a steady rise in the ranks after only playing a year of ITM Cup rugby last year and already made it into the Hamilton franchise. There’s a Facebook picture of him attempting to tackle Kurtley Beale during a recent pre-season match. I’m still not sure if Beale succeeded in side-stepping him in that instance. I doubt it.
Tino’s sister is engaged to Henry Speight, the flyer at the Brumbies. This will be Henry’s second year in the top flight and he impressed quite a lot last year in his debut season. Henry started a lot of the matches and even dotted down a few times, his first coming in his second match versus the Melbourne Rebels. He has been a solid contributor to the Brumbies fanchise in 2011 and he will definitely bring it this year.
Another cousin of mine is engaged to Patrick Osborne of the Crusaders. Ricky is also in his first year of Super Rugby and he plays on the wing as well. He’ll have to compete with Zac Guildford, Sean Maitland, Israel Dagg and Tom Marshall for a 11, 14 or 15 jumper. He has a cavalier approach to games and is renown in Fiji for leaving his heart out on the field everytime he steps out. A rugged defender, he hits as fast as he attacks so definitely look out for some big impact from him. I’m expecting him to perform with whatever game-time he gets and here’s hoping he brings the pain.
So three wingers in three teams, plus my original team, makes four teams that I have to share the love with this season. But I’ve been so starved for quality rugby action that I am ready to divvy up my attentions in this 20 week rugby extravaganza.
Even though, it’s only days away, I’m just thirsting for some crack rugby!
Fiji doesn’t get coverage of the Heineken Cup, Aviva Premiership, RaboDirect 12 Cup or the Top 14 competition and we have had to make do with Test rugby, sevens, Super Rugby and even NRL. When it’s off-season in the Southern Hemisphere, it really is off season in Fiji and rugby followers have had to go without.
So I say bring on the pain and bring on the reign. Who has what it takes to topple the flamboyant Reds this year? I have a fair idea but I’ll keep them close to my chest as I wouldn’t want to pre-empt any of the teams.
I just hope for some good smash, bash and crash rugby because at the end of the day, rugby is most definitely the winner.