Super Rugby Round six preview: Can the Canes stay on top?

A lot’s been said in the past about All Black rest and rotation, but this week the Chiefs came up with a new twist. Meanwhile the Canes keep rolling on, the Blues have to play an away game at home and the most interesting game of the weekend potentially is the one between two Aussie sides.

Crusaders v Chiefs

Kick-off: 7.05pm, Friday 29 March

Apollo Projects Stadium, Christchurch

Live blog updates on RNZ Sport

Tom Christie of the Crusaders tackles Shaun Stevenson of the Chiefs during the Super Rugby Pacific rugby match between the Chiefs and the Crusaders at FMG Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand on Friday February 23, 2024. Copyright photo: Aaron Gillions /

Being 0-5 is bad enough for the Crusaders, but bow they have to suffer the indignity of having opposition rest their best players against them. Damian McKenzie will be watching this one from the couch, a move that has raised a few eyebrows considering just how much of a different team the Chiefs turn into when he’s not there. Still, the Crusaders will be without one of their best too, with David Havili out with injury. That means Mitch Drummond comes straight back in to take over the captaincy, making him the third man to do so this season. This losing streak is getting seriously ugly for the Crusaders, it’s been going so long they’re back playing a side that’s already beaten them this year.

Crusaders: George Bower, George Bell, Fletcher Newell, Quinten Strange, Jamie Hannah, Corey Kellow, Tom Christie, Cullen Grace, Mitch Drummond, Riley Hohepa, Johnny McNicholl, Dallas McLeod, Levi Aumua, Sevu Reece, Chay Fihaki

Bench: James Mullen, Kershawl Sykes-Martin, Owen Franks, Dominic Gardiner, Fletcher Anderson, Noah Hotham, Rivez Reihana, Macca Springer

Chiefs: Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei’aho, George Dyer, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Josh Lord, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Kaylum Boshier, Luke Jacobson (c), Xavier Roe, Josh Jacomb, Etene Nanai Seturo, Quinn Tupaea, Anton Lienert-Brown, Emoni Narawa, Shaun Stevenson

Bench: Bradley Slater, Jared Proffit, Reuben O’Neill, Jimmy Tupou, Simon Parker, Cortez Ratima, Josh Ioane, Daniel Rona

Waratahs v Rebels

Kick-off: 9.35pm, Friday 29 March

Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Charlie Gamble of the Waratahs (left) joins Hugh Sinclair of the Waratahs (right) as he celebrates scoring a try during the Super Rugby Pacific Round 2 match between the Crusaders and the New South Wales Waratahs at AAMI Park in Melbourne, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett/ Photosport

Australian rugby already had some good news this week with the commitment of Max Jorgensen for the foreseeable future, so the Tahs be keen to get him over the line a few times against a Rebels side that was flogged by the Canes last weekend. Even though they lost to the Drua in Lautoka, the Tahs will take plenty of heart from that fighting effort.

Waratahs: Angus Bell, Mahe Vailanu, Tom Ross, Jed Holloway, Hugh Sinclair, Lachlan Swinton, Charlie Gamble, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon (c), Tane Edmed, Dylan Pietsch, Joey Walton, Izaia Perese, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Max Jorgensen

Bench: Julian Heaven, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Miles Amatosero, Ned Hanigan, Jack Grant, Will Harrison, Lalakai Foketi

Rebels: Matt Gibbon, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai, Angelo Smith, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Josh Kemeny, Rob Leota (c), Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Darby Lancaster, David Feliuai, Filipo Daugunu, Lachie Anderson, Jake Strachan

Bench: Alex Mafi, Cabous Eloff, Taniela Tupou, Josh Canham, Maciu Nabolakasi, Vaiolini Ekuasi, James Tuttle, Nick Jooste

Fijian Drua v Force

Kick-off: 2.05pm, Saturday 30 March

Churchill Park, Lautoka

The weekend saw peak Pacific flair on show in Melbourne.

It’s the Force’s turn to go feel the heat in the Burning West, where the Drua are unbeaten so far and looking to add to that tally. However, if the Force can pull out the sort of effort they did when they upset the Reds last weekend, this one might be a bit closer than first thought.

Fijian Drua: Haereiti Hetet, Tevita Ikanivere, Mesake Doge, Mesake Vocevoce, Leone Rotuisolia, Etonia Waqa, Kitione Salawa, Elia Canakaivata, Frank Lomani, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Epeli Momo, Apisalome Vota, Iosefo Masi, Selestino Ravutaumada, Ilaisa Droasese

Bench: Zuriel Togiatama, Livai Natave, Samuela Tawake, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Motikiai Murray, Simione Kuruvoli, Waqa Nalaga, Taniela Rakuro

Force: Ryan Coxon, Tom Horton, Santiago Medrano, Thomas Franklin, Lopeti Faifua, Tim Anstee, Carlo Tizzano, Reed Prinsep, Nic White (c), Ben Donaldson, Chase Tiatia, Hamish Stewart, Sam Spink, Bayley Kuenzle, Harry Potter

Bench: Ben Funnell, Josh Bartlett, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Sam Carter, Ollie Callan, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Max Burey, George Poolman

Moana Pasifika v Blues

Kick-off: 4.35pm, Saturday 30 March

Eden Park, Auckland

Live blog updates on RNZ Sport

Moana have taken this game to the Blues’ home in the hope of attracting a decent crowd, but also to try and replicate their effort at Eden Park last year. They were leading by six as time expired, but lost two men to the bin and conceded a penalty try off the last play of the game. Moana are a better side than that one this time around, but it’s unlikely the Blues will be taking them lightly. Meanwhile the Blues have been rocked by the news that in form fullback Zarn Sullivan is out for up to eight weeks with a knee injury.

Moana Pasifika: Abraham Pole, Samiuela Moli, Sione Mafileo, Tom Savage, Allan Craig, Jacob Norris, Sione Havili Talitui (c), Lotu Inisi, Ereatara Enari, Christian Lealiifano, Fine Inisi, Julian Savea, Pepesana Patafilo, Nigel Ah Wong, Danny Toala

Bench: Samiuela Moli, Donald Brighouse, Sekope Kepu, Ola Tauelangi, Semisi Paea, Melani Matavao, William Havili, Kyren Taumoefolau

Blues: Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Soane Vikena, Marcel Renata, Patrick Tuipulotu (c), Laghlan McWhannell, Anton Segner, Adrian Choat, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Stephen Perofeta, Caleb Clarke, Bryce Heem, Rieko Ioane, Mark Tele’a, Corey Evans

Bench: Ricky Riccitelli, Joshua Fusitu’a, Angus Ta’avao, Josh Beehre, Akira Ioane, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, Cole Forbes

Highlanders v Hurricanes

Kick-off: 7.05pm, Saturday 30 March

Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Live blog updates on RNZ Sport

Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens. Highlanders v Moana Pasifika.

This one has the potential to be an absolute shootout, because the Canes have got to where they are on the table by simply trying to score as many points as they possibly can at all times. Coach Clark Laidlaw’s approach seems to be putting as much trust in his young players as possible and it’s working, but this week they welcome back some serious firepower in Cam Roigard, Kini Naholo and Du’Plessis Kirifi.

Meanwhile, the Highlanders were their own worst enemies last weekend in Hamilton. Tanielu Tele’a, who was a standout so far, is suspended and Jermaine Ainsley is injured. But Ethan de Groot comes back to offset that. The Canes will need to be on high alert whenever the ball gets near Timoci Tavatavanawai and Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens.

Highlanders: Ethan de Groot, Henry Bell, Saula Ma’u, Fabian Holland, Max Hicks, Sean Withy, Billy Harmon (c) Tom Sanders, Folau Fakatava, Rhys Patchell, Jona Nareki, Sam Gilbert, Tanielu Tele’a, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens

Bench: Jack Taylor, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Rohan Wingham, Oliver Haig, Nikora Broughton, James Arscott, Ajay Faleafaga, Josh Timu

Hurricanes: Xavier Numia, Asafo Aumua, Tyrel Lomax, Caleb Delany, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Brad Shields, Peter Lakai, Brayden Iose, Cam Roigard, Brett Cameron, Kini Naholo, Jordie Barrett, Billy Proctor, Josh Moorby, Ruben Love

Bench: James O’Reilly, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Pasilio Tosi, Justin Sangster, Du’Plessis Kirifi, TJ Perenara, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Ngane Punivai

Reds v Brumbies

Kick-off: 9.35pm, Saturday 30 March

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Jeff Toomaga-Allen of the Reds celebrates.

Two Australian teams playing in the most intriguing clash of the round? You better believe it. The Reds have looked good till they came apart in a horror first half in Perth last weekend, while the Brumbies have clicked back into form last weekend by thrashing Moana Pasifika, after a patchy start to the season. These two sides will be eyeing each other up as the main contenders from across the ditch, so this game will be extremely hard fought.

Reds: Peni Ravai, Matt Faessler, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Seru Uru, Ryan Smith, Liam Wright (co-c), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott (co-c), Tom Lynagh, Mac Grealy, Hunter Paisami, Josh Flook, Jordan Petaia, Jock Campbell

Bench: Josh Nasser, George Blake, Zane Nonggorr, Cormac Daly, John Bryant, Kalani Thomas, Lawson Creighton, Suliasi Vunivalu

Brumbies: James Slipper, Lachlan Lonergan, Sefo Kautai, Darcy Swain, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Valetini, Jahrome Brown, Charlie Cale, Ryan Lonergan (c), Noah Lolesio, Corey Toole, Tamati Tua, Hudson Creighton, Ollie Sapsford, Tom Wright

Bench: Billy Pollard, Harry Vella, Rhys Van Nek, Nick Frost, Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer, Harrison Goddard, Declan Meredith

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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