Super Rugby
Super Rugby preview, team news, line-ups: Round 8
ESPN Staff
April 2, 2015
Greg Growden and Sam Bruce preview Super Rugby Round 8

Friday, April 3

Hurricanes v Stormers, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Head-to-head: Played 16, Hurricanes 6, Stormers 10

In Wellington: Played 7, Hurricanes 3, Stormers 4

Last clash: Round 3, 2014 - Stormers 19-18 Hurricanes, Cape Town

Key Stats (Opta Stats)

  • The Stormers have won the past four matches against the Hurricanes, although the past two victories were claimed by a collective three points in matches that each produced fewer than 40 points.
  • The Stormers have lost their past four games in New Zealand, but they have not lost five consecutive away games against Kiwi sides since 1998.
  • The Hurricanes have the best tackling success rate in the competition (90%), while the Stormers rank second-worst (84.1%).
The Hurricanes Ma'a Nonu gets an offload away under pressure, Bulls v Hurricanes, Pretoria, February 20, 2015
Ma'a Nonu is 149 Super Rugby games young © Getty Images


  • Hurricanes: Nehe Milner-Skudder; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara; Victor Vito, Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields; James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush; Ben Franks, Motu Matu'u, Reggie Goodes. Replacements: Brayden Mitchell, Ben May, Chris Eves, Mark Abbott, Adam Hill, Chris Smylie, Rey Lee-Lo, James Marshall.
  • Stormers: Cheslin Kolbe; Kobus van Wyk, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds; Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom; Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi; Manuel Carizza, Eben Etzebeth; Vincent Koch, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitsoff. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Oli Kebble, Frans Malherbe, Ruan Botha, Michael Rhodes, Louis Schreuder, Kurt Coleman, Huw Jones.


  • Hurricanes: Dan Coles (Shoulder, TBC), Iopu Iopu-Aso (Shoulder, TBC), Ardie Savea (Hand, Round 13)
  • Stormers: Rynhardt Elstadt (Leg, TBC), Jean de Villiers (Knee, Season), Johnny Kotze (Shoulder, TBC), Jaco Taute (Knee, TBC), Jurie van Vuuren (Shoulder, TBC)

Team News

  • Ma'a Nonu is due to play his 150th Super Rugby match, his 114th for the Hurricanes, in a team featuring four changes from that which defeated the Rebels. All Blacks Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea and Ben Franks return to the starting side, with Nehe Milner-Skudder reclaiming the No.15 jumper after his two-try cameo against the Rebels.

  • Duane Vermeulen returns to the Stormers squad at No.8 after missing last week's loss to the Highlanders. He is joined in the starting line-up by another Springboks forward in lock Eben Etzebeth, the towering second-rower moving into the run-on side after coming off the bench in Dunedin.

Greg Growden's verdict: Wellingtonians are still shaking themselves in disbelief. Their team is unbeaten. What is going on? After endless years of wasting the moment, potential is at last being fulfilled. The unbeaten streak should continue.

Tips - Greg Growden: Hurricanes by 6 Sam Bruce: Hurricanes Brett McKay: Hurricanes Brittany Mitchell: Hurricanes Andy Withers: Hurricanes

Duane Vermeulen returns to the Stormers' XV after sitting out the match against the Highlanders © Getty Images

Laurie Weeks is out with a hand injury © Getty Images

Rebels v Queensland Reds, AAMI Stadium, Melbourne

Head-to-head: Played 8, Rebels 1, Reds 7

In Melbourne: Played 4, Rebels 0, Reds 4

Last clash: Round 17, 2014 - Rebels 20-36 Reds, Melbourne

Key Stats (Opta Stats)

  • The past three matches between the sides have each produced more than 50 points, and the Reds recorded their largest Super Rugby win (53-3) when they trumped the Rebels in the first fixture in March 2011.
  • The Rebels are on their worst run of form at home, having lost their past seven matches in Melbourne.
  • The Reds have lost eight of their past nine away matches, gaining a losing bonus point in just two fixtures.


  • Rebels: Mike Harris; Tom English , Tamati Ellison , Mitch Inman , Sefanaia Naivalu ; Jack Debreczeni , Nic Stirzaker ; Scott Higginbotham (co-captain), Scott Fuglistaller (co-captain), Sean McMahon ; Lopeti Timani , Luke Jones ; Paul Alo-Emile , Pat Leafa, Toby Smith. Replacements: Tom Sexton, Cruze Ah, Tim Metcher, Cadeyrn Neville, Colby Fainga'a, Luke Burgess, Jordy Reid, Bryce Hegarty.
  • Queensland Reds: Lachie Turner; Chris Feaua-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Anthony Fainga'a, James O'Connor; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Jack Schatz, Liam Gill, Adam Thomson; James Horwill, Dave McDuling; Greg Holmes, James Hanson, James Slipper. Replacements: Ben Daley, Saia Fainga'a, Sef Faagase, Curtis Browning, Nick Frisby, Chris Kuridrani, Karmichael Hunt.


  • Rebels: Dom Shipperley (Hand, Round 11-13)
  • Queensland Reds: Duncan Paia'aua (Concussion, TBC), Eddie Quirk (Knee, TBC), Beau Robinson (Calf, TBC), Jamie-Jerry Taulagi (Knee, Round 8-10)

Team News

  • Lopeti Timani returns to the Rebels' second-row after a week off, the Wallabies aspirant one of five changes to the squad that lost to the Hurricanes. Paul Alo-Emile replaces injured tight-head Laurie Weeks, Tim Metcher can make his Super Rugby debut from the bench, and Jordy Reid is in a squad for the first time this season. Former Wallabies scrum-half Luke Burgess returns to the squad.
  • The Reds have been bolstered by the return of Liam Gill and Greg Holmes to the pack while dynamic, if injury-prone, winger Chris Feauai-Sautia has also been named to start. Gill returns to the starting side after serving a suspension for a lifting tackle while Karmichael Hunt is on the bench having completed a suspension of a different kind.

Greg Growden's verdict: The Reds are a mess, but with Quade Cooper back they at least have one actual on-field threat. And that could be enough for them to finally remember how to win an Australian derby.

Karmichael Hunt has been named on the bench after completing his suspension for off-field misdemeanours © Getty Images

Tips - Greg Growden: Reds by 4 Sam Bruce: Rebels Brett McKay: Reds Brittany Mitchell: Rebels Andy Withers: Rebels

Enter your Super Rugby tips at for your chance to win an Auckland Bledisloe Cup travel package. Enter the ESPN Scrum Super Stars tipping league at to claim bragging rights over the ESPN Scrum rugby journalists including Greg Growden.

Brodie Retallick returns after recovering from his shoulder injury © Getty Images

Saturday, April 4

Chiefs v Blues, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Head-to-head: Played 24, Chiefs 14, Blues 10

In Hamilton: Played 11, Chiefs 6, Blues 5

Last clash: Round 1, 2015 - Blues 18-23 Chiefs, Albany

Key Stats (Opta Stats)

  • The Blues' eight-match losing streak against the Chiefs is their second-worst run against another team in Super Rugby history; only against the Sharks have they lost more games in a row (10, ongoing). And their eight-match losing run in Super Rugby (against all teams) represents the Blues' worst form in history.
  • The Chiefs average the fewest missed tackles this season (11.9).
  • The Blues rank second when it comes to defenders beaten per game (21), with the Chiefs third-best (20.7).


  • Chiefs: Damian McKenzie; Tom Marshall, Andrew Horrell, Sonny Bill Williams, James Lowe; Aaron Cruden, Augustine Pulu; Michael Leitch , Sam Cane, Liam Messam (captain); Brodie Retallick, Matt Symons; Ben Tameifuna , Hika Elliot, Mitchell Graham. Replacements: Quentin MacDonald, Siate Tokolahi, Pauliasi Manu, Michael Allardice, Liam Squire, Brad Weber, Anton Lienert-Brown, Bryce Heem.
  • Blues: Charles Piutau; Frank Halai, Pita Ahki, George Moala, Tevita Li; Dan Bowden, Jamison Gibson-Park; Jerome Kaino, Brendon O'Connor, Steven Luatua; Hayden Triggs, Josh Bekhuis; Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi. Replacements: James Parsons, Sam Prattley, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Luke Braid, Jimmy Cowan, Ihaia West, Francis Saili.Ofa Tu'ungafasi


  • Chiefs: Nathan Harris (Ankle, TBC), Tawera Kerr-Barlow (ACL, Season), Tevita Kolomatangi (Ankle, Indefinite), Tim Nanai-Williams (Hand, TBC)
  • Blues: Blake Gibson (Jaw, Round 8), Bryn Hall (Foot, TBC)

Team News

  • Brodie Retallick is one of nine changes to the Chiefs' team, the second-row finally returning from a shoulder injury. Augustine Pulu takes over at half-back with James Lowe returning to the left wing, Andrew Horrell starting outside Sonny Bill Williams in midfield, and Tom Marshall on the right wing. Up front, Hika Elliot returns at hooker after sitting out the match against the Cheetahs, with Mitchell Graham making his first start in the front-row. Quentin MacDonald moves onto the bench alongside prop Pauliasi Manu, while Liam Squire is in line to play his first Super Rugby match of the season having returned from injury. Anton Lienert-Brown, Brad Weber and Bryce Heem move to the bench.

  • Pita Ahki makes his seasonal debut for the Blues after undergoing early-season foot injury, while Bryn Hall and Tony Woodcock were not considered because of injury.

Greg Growden's verdict: Sir John Kirwan, desperately hanging onto his head coach spot, keeps going on about the Blues' potential. I can't see it. This will be a mismatch.

Tips - Greg Growden: Chiefs by 20 Sam Bruce: Chiefs Brett McKay: Chiefs Brittany Mitchell: Chiefs Andy Withers: Chiefs

Pita Akhi is back in the Blues' starting XV © Getty Images

Brumbies v Cheetahs, Canberra Stadium, Canberra

Head-to-head: Played 9, Brumbies 6, Cheetahs 3

In Canberra: Played 5, Brumbies 5, Cheetahs 0

Last clash: Round 14, 2014 - Cheetahs 27-21 Brumbies, Bloemfontein

Key Stats (Opta Stats)

  • The Cheetahs are on a four-match losing streak, at an aggregate margin of 89 points.
  • The Cheetahs have the worst tackling success rate (83.9%) in the competition, and they average the most misses per match (22.3). The Brumbies are the second-worst side when it comes to misses per game, an average of 21, while their tackling success rate sits at 85.1%.
  • The Cheetahs' scrum success rate (70%) is the worst in the competition; just three sides have fared better than the Brumbies (91%) at this set-piece.


  • Brumbies: Robbie Coleman, James Dargaville, Henry Speight, Christian Leali'ifano, Matt Toomua, Nic White; Jarrad Butler, David Pocock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Blake Enever, Scott Sio, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander. Replacements: Josh Mann-Rea, Allan Alaalatoa, Ruan Smith, Jordan Smiler, Ita Vaea, Michael Dowsett, Lausii Taliauli, Nigel Ah Wong.
  • Cheetahs: Willie le Roux; Cornal Hendricks, Johann Sadie, Francois Venter, Raymond Rhule; Joe Pietersen, Tian Meyer; Willie Britz, Johannes Prinsloo, Heinrich Brussow; Francois Uys, Carl Wegner; Coenie Oosthuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Danie Mienie. Replacements: Stephan Coetzee, Burrie Gildenhuys Uys, Nicholas van Dyk, Steven Sykes, Tienie Burger, Sarel Pretorius, Willie du Plessis, Rayno Benjamin.


  • Brumbies: Tevita Kuridrani (Shoulder, Round 16), Rory Arnold (TBC).
  • Cheetahs: Tienie Burger (Concussion, TBC), Lood de Jager (Elbow, Round 15), Armandt Koster (Back, TBC), Hilton Lobberts (Knee, Round 15), Sergeal Peterson (Jaw, Round 9-10), Willem Serfontein (Knee, Round 8), Ewald van der Westhuizen (Nerve, TBC), Elgar Watts (Knee, Round 8)

Team News

  • The Brumbies have had the luxury of naming an unchanged side for much of the year but a couple of injuries have forced coach Stephen Larkham's hand this week. The biggest change, however, is not related to injury with David Pocock returning to the run-on side following his 25-minute cameo in Sydney a fortnight ago. Pocock pushes Jarrad Butler to No.8, forcing Ita Vaea out while Blake Enever comes in at lock for the injured Rory Arnold. In the backs, Henry Speight has shifted to outside-centre to cover the loss of Tevita Kuridrani with James Dargaville slotting into the vacant wing spot.
  • Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has made sweeping changes to the side beaten 37-27 by the Chiefs last weekend. The biggest inclusions see Springboks Willie le Roux and Coenie Oosthuizen come in at fullback and prop, respectively. Prop Danie Minnie and hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld join Oosthuizen in a new-look front-row while Carl Wegner wins a start at lock in place of Steven Sykes. In the backline, Tian Meyer takes over from Shaun Venter at scrum-half while there is also a new centre pairing in the form of Johann Sadie and Francois Venter.

Henry Speight will start at outside-centre against the Cheetahs © Getty Images

Greg Growden's verdict: The Brumbies were off in the best local derby of the season, when the Waratahs at last got their act together. This is a far easier assignment, and the Brumbies will rally

Tips - Greg Growden: Brumbies by 16 Sam Bruce: Brumbies Brett McKay: Brumbies Brittany Mitchell: Brumbies Andy Withers: Brumbies

The Cheetahs have endured a torrid time on tour this season © Getty Images

Enter your Super Rugby tips at for your chance to win an Auckland Bledisloe Cup travel package. Enter the ESPN Scrum Super Stars tipping league at to claim bragging rights over the ESPN Scrum rugby journalists including Greg Growden.

Matt Todd replaces Richie McCaw in the Crusaders' No.7 jumper © Getty Images

Sharks v Crusaders, Kings Park Stadium, Durban

Head-to-head: Played 19, Sharks 4, Crusaders 15

In Durban: Played 7, Sharks 3, Crusaders 4

Last clash: Semi-final, 2014 - Crusaders 38-6 Sharks, Christchurch

Key Stats (Opta Stats)

  • The Sharks have averaged more kicks from hand per game than any other side this season (29.3) but are also the recipients of more kicks from hand per game (28.9).
  • The Crusaders rank first for scrum success rate (94%).
  • The Sharks have scored the most tries in the 20 minutes that lead up to half-time (7), while the Crusaders have scored the most tries in the 20 minutes that follow half-time (8).


  • Sharks: SP Marais; Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen,Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo; Pat Lambie (captain), Cobus Reinach; Ryan Kankowski, Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee; Marco Wentzel, Mouritz Botha; Jannie du Plessis, Kyle Cooper, Beat Mtawarira Replacements: Franco Marais, Thomas du Toit, Matt Stevens, Giant mtayanda, Renaldo Bothma, Conrad Hoffmann, Fred Zeilinga, Waylon Murray
  • Crusaders: Israel dagg; David Havili, Kieron Fonotia, Ryan Crotty, Nemani Nadolo; Colin Slade, Andy Ellis; Kieran Read (captain), Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua; Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano; Nepo Laulala, Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Codie Taylor, Joe Moody, Owen Franks, Jimmy Tupou, Richie McCaw, Mitchell Drummond, Tom Taylor, Nafi Tuitavake


  • Sharks: Bismarck du Plessis (Suspended, Round 12), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Knee, Indefinite)
  • Crusaders: Robbie Fruean (Arm, Indefinite), Willi Heinz (Leg, Season), Johnny McNicholl (Knee, Round 10), Jone Macilai (Arm, TBC), Tim Perry (Ankle, TBC)

Team News

  • Patrick Lambie returns to the starting line-up, replacing suspended Frans Steyn after being rested against Western Force. Marcell Coetzee and Cobus Reinach also return from their one-match rest, the former replacing last week's man of the match, Renaldo Bothma. The starting XV is otherwise unchanged with Jannie du Plessis and Jean Deysel each passing a fitness test after a clash of heads against the Force.

  • Matt Todd starts instead of Richie McCaw at openside, as one of seven changes to the starting line-up that played the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend. Props Wyatt Crockett and Joe Moody have again rotated, while Nepo Laulala starts on the other side of the scrum with Owen Franks on the bench alongside Mccaw. Colin Slade moves back to fly-half with Ryan Crotty shifting to second-five and Kieron Fonotia moving to centre after Dan Carter returned home to New Zealand to attend the birth of his second child. David Havili makes his first start for the Crusaders, taking the right wing, with Tom Taylor and Nafi Tuitavake moved to the bench.

Greg Growden's verdict: The Sharks may be winning, but they were near unwatchable against the Force, still stuck playing boring old Jakeball. They deserve to lose.

Tips - Greg Growden: Crusaders by 6 Sam Bruce: Crusaders Brett McKay: Crusaders Brittany Mitchell: Crusaders Andy Withers: Crusaders

Patrick Lambie wears the Sharks' armband © Getty Images

The Lions return home looking to claim their first win in South Africa this season © Getty Images

Lions v Bulls, Ellis Park, Johannesburg

Head-to-head: Played 19, Lions 6, Bulls 13

In Johannesburg: Played 9, Lions 3, Bulls 6

Last clash: Round 16, 2014 - Lions 32-21 Bulls, Johannesburg

Key Stats (Opta Stats)

  • The Lions' seven matches this season have all yielded 41 or fewer points at an average of 35.
  • The Bulls are aiming for five straight victories for the first time since 2013, when they went nine in a row.
  • The Bulls have averaged the most points this season (28), while only the Reds (9.3) have posted fewer per game than the Lions (13.7).


  • Lions: Andries Coetzee; Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Anthony Volmink; Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje; Warren Whiteley, Warwick Tecklenburg, Derick Minnie; Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira; Ruan Dreyer, Robbie Coetzee, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: Armand van der Merwe, Corne Fourie, Julian Redelinghuys, Robert Kruger, Jaco Kriel, Faf de Klerk, Marnitz Boshoff, Howward Mnisi.
  • Bulls: Jesse Kriel; Francois Hougaard, JJ Engelbrecht, Burger Odendaal, Bjorn Basson; Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Rudy Paige; Pierre Spies (captain), Hanro Liebenberg, Deon Stegmann; Grant Hattingh, Jacques du Plessis; Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Callie Visagie, Morne Mellett, Marcel van der Merwe, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Roelof Smit, Piet van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, Jurgen Visser.


  • Lions: nil
  • Bulls: Carlo Engelbrecht (Ankle, Round 15), Werner Kruger (Ankle, Round 9-10), Bandise Maku (Chest, Season), Duncan Matthews (Knee, Season), Akone Ndungane (Hand, Round 10), Pierre Schoeman (Knee, Season), William Small-Smith (Foot, Round 11), Flip van der Merwe (Chest, Round 10)

Team News

  • Lions coach Johan Ackermann has made three changes to the side that made it three wins from four on tour with the narrow win over the Reds in Brisbane. Prop Jacques van Rooyen and lock Andries Ferreira have earned starts while winger Anthony Volmink has overcome a long-term injury to make his first appearance of 2015.
  • Handre Pollard is absent having failed to overcome a knee injury, with Jacques-Louis Potgieter starting at 10 as he returns from a three-week absence with a hamstring strain. Grant Hattingh (for Victor Matfield) and Dean Greyling (for Morne Mellett) will start in the pack. Matfield and Jan Serfontein are rested

Greg Growden's verdict: A few wins at home and suddenly the Lions, having enjoyed a successful road trip at long last, could be a finals threat. The Bulls should bring them back to reality.

Tips - Greg Growden: Bulls by 3 Sam Bruce: Bulls Brett McKay: Lions Brittany Mitchell: Bulls Andy Withers: Bulls

Jacques-Louis Potgieter replaces Handre Pollard in the Bulls' No.10 jumper © Getty Images

Enter your Super Rugby tips at for your chance to win an Auckland Bledisloe Cup travel package. Enter the ESPN Scrum Super Stars tipping league at to claim bragging rights over the ESPN Scrum rugby journalists including Greg Growden.

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