- By Kevin McCarthy
Now of course the game this weekend is important. They’re all important. The Jaguares can be formidable on a good day and their pack is the sort that could give ours some undue grief.
But really, it’s those same Jaguares the Rebels, the Bulls, and the Lions – and the Highlanders – who you should be paying attention to over the next few weeks.
Right now, because of the protected species status of the conference winners, the second-best team in the competition (yeah, that’s us) would end up playing the Highlanders in the quarter-finals.
Not something we should be aspiring to.
Whether that comes to pass is still wide open, because those four non-Kiwi teams I’ve listed all have a game in hand over the Highlanders, but are in breathing distance of them on the table.
Assuming the conference leaders more or less stay the same and the Hurricanes get a couple of more wins to cement fourth place, then the question will be where the wildcards fall, including of course the Highlanders.
They have, like us, two matches to play in the Republic, and against slightly weaker opposition, in the run-in.
So anyway, here’s a crazy idea.
If we win against the Jaguares, we won’t be guaranteed fourth spot, but it will be very close to that. The chasers are clustered back 11 table points or more at this juncture.
Would it be stupid to rest key players from going to the Republic for those two matches? I think not. Ardie for one could only benefit from refilling that amazing fuel tank.
And it’s well known the travel factor remains something of a killer for teams coming home.
The last match by the way is at home against the Blues. What could possibly go wrong.
Incidentally, whatever the draw, if we are fourth and win our quarter, then we inexorably wind up going to Christchurch for a semi.
Unless of course, the Crusaders lose their quarter, regarding which I believe the young people use the phrase LMAO.
Step up James Marshall.
I mentioned a few weeks ago how good it was to see Mr Utility back from injury.
A couple of bench appearances later, and now he’s starting at first-five. I did point out he could play there.
So there you go, have a blinder Jimmy – who knows, the All Black selectors might even be watching.
And Ardie at No 8. I am sure he could play first-five as well.
Don’t forget it’s club night on Friday.
Thousands of junior players from different codes throughout the Wellington region get to the game for free.
Fans are also encouraged to wear their club colours.
Which reminds me once of sitting in the Millard Stand once, watching the Mighty Wairarapa-Bush in about 1982.
I spotted a guy in front wearing red and green, the Bush colours, and hailed a fellow Wairarapa supporter.
In the spirit of fans everywhere, he replied:
“**** off, I’m from Onslow.”