Opinion

Pondering NZ's sevens squad for Rio Olympics

Julian Savea

OPINION: You've got to be rugby's version of a Swiss army knife to make Gordon Tietjens' head turn.

FitzSimons: Let's back Tahs to end the crusade

NSW Waratahs

OPINION: Let's see the Crusader's quiet intensity, and raise them raucous joy.

Snook: Super Rugby final should be a cracker

Todd Blackadder

OPINION: The Waratahs have actually lived up to the early season menace but the Crusaders have to be favoured.

Reason: Why Andy's so handy for Crusaders

Andy Ellis

OPINION: He's not the best No 9, but he might be the most influential player on the pitch in the Super Rugby final.

Mehrtens: Waratahs are not beating own drum

Michael Cheika, Daryl Gibson

ANDREW MEHRTENS - Stuff

OPINION: The Waratahs have stopped telling everyone how good they are; and just set about proving it on the field.

Hinton: We need All Blacks to bring back gold

Sonny Bill Williams

MARC HINTON - Stuff

OPINION: NZ have to wheel out the big guns for Rio when they go for the first ever Sevens Olympic gold.

Gifford: NZ Sevens winning off and on the field

DJ Forbes

PHIL GIFFORD - Stuff

OPINION: The New Zealand sevens squad's leaders help in the battle for hearts and minds.

Wilson: Bledisloe may still be beyond Wallabies

JEFF WILSON - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: It's been 11 years since the big trophy resided across the Tasman, and it's not ready to go just yet.

Snook: Supporting cast key to team's success

Crusaders fans

IAN SNOOK - Taranaki Daily News

OPINION: Four down. One remaining. For the Chiefs, Hurricanes, Blues and Highlanders the 2015 season is imminent.

Knowler: Sharks far from toothless on the road

Bismark du Plessis

RICHARD KNOWLER - The Press

OPINION: Plenty of mongrel in team led by 111kg slab of organic SA beef aiming to sink hopes of NZ glory.

Mehrtens: Crusaders get a shot at redemption

Richie McCaw

ANDREW MEHRTENS - Stuff

OPINION: Memory of that shock home defeat to the Sharks will help Todd Blackadder motivate his men.

Randell: Could 2014 be the year of Waratahs?

Kurtley Beale

TAINE RANDELL - Sunday News

OPINION: Those underachieving pretty boys of Australian rugby are finally delivering on their promise, writes Taine Randell.

Wilson: Crusaders will win - All Blacks say so

Jacques Potgieter

JEFF WILSON - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: History doesn't decide football games. And they're not played on paper either, writes Jeff Wilson.

Gifford: Nine reasons why Crusaders bet safe

Dan Carter

PHIL GIFFORD - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: The wolves were howling for Todd Blackadder's head early in the year. A title might shut them up, writes Phil Gifford.

Super Rugby is simple, just KISS

ma'a nonu

The Super Rugby season is too long and fragmented. Let's take it back to basics, Ricardo Foxtrot writes.

Mehrtens: Tahs, Crusaders may rue week off

Richie McCaw

ANDREW MEHRTENS - Stuff

OPINION: A rest period before the Super Rugby finals may not be ideal for the players involved, writes Andrew Mehrtens.

Knowler: Crusaders more than a shot at title

Nemani Nadolo

RICHARD KNOWLER - The Press

OPINION: Qualifying for Super Rugby semis means much more for Crusaders than just having a crack at another title.

Robson: Nonu made mistakes, time to move on

Ma'a Nonu

TOBY ROBSON - The Dominion Post

OPINION: Whatever issues Ma'a Nonu had at the Hurricanes in 2011 it is time for all involved to move on

Bidwell: Promises from new Cane Ma'a Nonu

Ma'a Nonu

HAMISH BIDWELL - The Dominion Post

OPINION: Now we get some indication of the environment Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett was operating in.

Reason: Super Rugby table not a fair reflection

Mark Hammett

MARK REASON - The Dominion Post

OPINION: How strange it is that so many judgments are made according to the Super Rugby final standings.

Johnstone: Sixth South African side bad move

S'bura Sithole

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE - Stuff

OPINION: It's a good thing they have a good off-field argument as their Super Rugby on-field effort doesn't deserve it.

Robson: Hammer failed to nail it at Hurricanes

 Mark Hammett

TOBY ROBSON - The Dominion Post

OPINION: Mark Hammett slipped at the start line and never fully recovered.

Crusaders crank it up on home run in title chase

Matt Todd

TOBY ROBSON - The Press

OPINION: The Crusaders wouldn't be a bad bet to end their Super Rugby title drought.

Wilson: Canes' era of Hammer came up short

Mark Hammett

JEFF WILSON - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: So now the Hurricane era of the Hammer is over, what are we to make of it all?

Randell: Hammett has failed for the Hurricanes

Mark Hammett

TAINE RANDELL - Sunday News

OPINION: After four seasons without reaching the playoffs, Mark Hammett exits the Hurricanes having failed to deliver on expectations.

Phil Gifford book extract: Rugby's clown prince

Andrew Mehrtens

The Press

In this exclusive extract from his memoir, Phil Gifford talks of his affection for Andrew Mehrtens.

Snook: Welcome to the year of the Waratahs

Michael Cheika, Daryl Gibson

IAN SNOOK - Taranaki Daily News

OPINION: If you had $100 on the Waratahs to win their first-ever title, you would be feeling happy with yourself.

Knowler: More runaround guff from Ma'a Nonu

Ma'a Nonu

RICHARD KNOWLER - The Press

OPINION: Latest instalment in the tale of a roaming Ma'a Nonu should be of immense frustration to the NZRU.

Randell: Key to Waratahs lies at No 7 position

Michael Hooper

TAINE RANDELL - Sunday News

Head-to-head between Michael Hooper and Shane Christie is pivotal to Highlanders' hopes of upset win.

Wilson: Super clash of the fullbacks awaits

Ben Smith

JEFF WILSON - Sunday Star Times

It's the match-up within the match-up that that excites most about the Waratahs against the Highlanders.

Gifford: Clever play carries Chiefs to victory

Aaron Cruden

PHIL GIFFORD - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: The Chiefs treated the ball as if it was gold, the Canes as if it was the wrapper off a Big Mac, writes Phil Gifford.

Opinion: Toby Robson's Super Rugby 'Teamtalk'

Blade Thomson

TOBY ROBSON - The Dominion Post

OPINION: Fairfax Media rugby writer Toby Robson gives his take on a week of Super Rugby thrills and spills.

Snook: Pressure matches unearth odd reactions

Beauden Barrett

IAN SNOOK - Taranaki Daily News

It's pressure time, and pressure does some strange things to players and coaches.

Highlanders now believe they're good enough

Highlanders

JEFF WILSON - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: My old coach Gordon Hunter used to have a nice way to motivate us.

Gifford: Crusaders' grand plan fine - on paper

PHIL GIFFORD - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: Almost every game for New Zealand teams in Super Rugby now feels like a knockout match.

Reason: Bumpy road ahead for sweet chariot

richie mccaw

MARK REASON - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: England and the All Blacks have a lot to reflect on ahead of next year's World Cup.

Knowler: Time Blackadder juggles selections

Owen Franks

RICHARD KNOWLER - The Press

OPINION: Things start to get tricky for the Crusaders as they gear up for a stab at making the Super Rugby playoffs.

Snook: English fall far short of grand ambition

Chris Robshaw

IAN SNOOK - Taranaki Daily News

OPINION: One step forward, two steps back. As hard as the English rugby team tried, the longer they spent in NZ the worse they got.

Mehrtens: Carter comeback should be the NPC

Dan Carter

ANDREW MEHRTENS - Fairfax Media

OPINION: Here's some advice for Steve Hansen on the topic of Dan Carter - don't pick him for the Rugby Championship.

Modern game threatens players' staying power

Richie McCaw

JEFF WILSON - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: Sad as it is to say, the days of a Richie McCaw playing 130-odd tests well into his 30s might be at an end.

Gifford: England had courage but that was all

Chris Robshaw

PHIL GIFFORD - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: Winning will always come first in a test match. It feels even more important when a side is snapping at the heels of a record-winning streak for first-tier teams.

Randell: Read's performance highlight of test

Kieran Read

TAINE RANDELL - Stuff

OPINION: All Black No 8 Kieran Read's performance was the highlight of tonight's test, says Taine Randell.

Snook: England still lack pace, verve with ball

Luther Burrell

IAN SNOOK - Taranaki Daily News

OPINION: There appears to be a few teething problems in the 'new age' English approach to playing rugby.

Reason: All Black brains beat English brawn

Ben Smith

MARK REASON - Stuff

OPINION: The All Blacks win over England in the second test shows rugby union is more about strategy than brute force.

Mehrtens: Barrett as ABs' No 10 right way to go

BEAUDEN BARRETT

ANDREW MEHRTENS - Stuff

OPINION: The time is right for Beauden Barrett to start at No 10 for the All Blacks, with Saturday's test the ideal chance.

Wilson: Winning WC in England will be tough

Steve Hansen

JEFF WILSON - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: Jeff Wilson wonders if the All Blacks' first test performance against England was them not looking to peak too soon.

Randell: All Blacks get win but are still rusty

Jerome Kaino

TAINE RANDELL - Sunday News

OPINION: While the ABs got away with another win over England, coach Steve Hansen has some work to do.

Gifford: Smith shines at fullback for All Blacks

Ben Smith

PHIL GIFFORD - Sunday Star Times

OPINION: Ben Smith was undoubtedly the All Blacks' standout performer in the second test against England.

Smith: Give fringe ABs a chance at England

Colin Slade

TONY SMITH - The Press

OPINION: Come on Steve Hansen don't be a party-pooper, release some All Blacks to the Crusaders to face England.

Hinton: Cory Jane must remind us of greatness

Cory Jane

MARC HINTON - Stuff

OPINION: Cory Jane is a funny guy with serious intentions who has met all challenges in his ABs career.
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Where should Super Rugby's 18th franchise be based?

Japan. The country has a real rugby history

Singapore. You have to factor in travel demands

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Auckland's big enough for a second franchise

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