Michael Lynagh: Will the Waratahs finally reach their potential in Super Rugby?
Michael Lynagh casts his eye over the Australian contenders for the Super Rugby competition.
Last Updated: 19/02/14 11:42am
Last season: Runners up - lost to Chiefs in final
Head coach: Stephen Larkham/Laurie Fisher
Ground: Canberra Stadium
Best performance: Champions (2001, 2004)
Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Fotu Auelua, Ben Alexander, Jarrad Butler, Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Stephen Moore, Ben Mowen, Ruaidhri Murphy, Joshua Mann-Rea, Lachlan McCaffrey, David Pocock, Leon Power, Scott Sio, Siliva Siliva, Jordan Smiler, Ruan Smith, Jean-Pierre Smith, Jack Whetton, Ita Vaea
Backs: Robbie Coleman, Lionel Cronje, Michael Dowsett, Conrad Hoffman, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Pat McCabe, Jesse Mogg, Clyde Rathbone, Andrew Smith, Henry Speight, Matt Toomua, Joe Tomane, Stephen Van Der Walt, Nic White.
Michael Lynagh says: Both the new coaches, Laurie Fisher and Stephen Larkham, were with the Brumbies last year but have stepped up into a bigger role. The Brumbies have surprised everyone over the last two years and everyone is a little wary of them. I think this year they need to move on to the next phase of their development. I think they need to attack a bit more and that is where Larkham will try to instigate some new ways of attack.
Player to watch: David Pocock is coming back from injury and did not play much last year at all. He is a superb player and will want to get back his Australian jersey, too.
Last season: 5th in Australian conference; 13th overall.
Head coach: Michael Foley
Captain: Matt Hodgson
Ground: Perth Oval
Best performance: Seventh (2007)
Forwards: Robbie Abel, Chris Alcock, Phoenix Battye, Nathan Charles, Adam Coleman, Angus Cottrell, Pek Cowan, Tetera Faulkner, Chris Heiberg, Matt Hodgson, Kieran Longbottom, Toby Lynn, Salesi Manu, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Brynard Stander, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Heath Tessman, Rory Walton, Sam Wykes
Backs: Marcel Brache, Luke Burton, Nick Cummins, Pat Dellit, Sias Ebersohn, Kyle Godwin, Dane Haylett-Petty, Jayden Hayward, Zack Holmes, Ryan Louwrens, Alby Mathewson, Luke Morahan, Ian Prior, Junior Rasolea, Ed Stubbs, Chris Tuatara-Morrison.
Michael Lynagh says: No surprises how they will play this year. They have recruited a lot of South Africans including two in their coaching set-up. I think they will play in a very structured, more controlled way - much like the Brumbies did under Jake White. Their problem over the years has been that they can compete for 60 - 70 minutes of the game; they get close but then they lose the games that they should win. They will be hard to beat at home but I am not sure if they have the players this year to compete.
Player to watch: Kyle Godwin is a good young player. He plays in the centre but has played at 10 in the past. He is playing in a tough team but is definitely one to look out for.
Last Season: Lost to Crusaders in first round play-offs
Coach: Richard Graham
Captain: James Horwill
Ground: AMI Stadium
Best performance: Champions (2011)
Forwards: Albert Anae, Curtis Browning, Ben Daley, Saia Faingaa, Liam Gill, James Hanson, James Horwill, Greg Holmes, Eddie Quirk, Ed O'Donoghue, Jono Owen, Jake Schatz, Rob Simmons, Beau Robinson, James Slipper, David McDuling
Backs: Quade Cooper, Rod Davies, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Anthony Faingaa, Nick Frisby, Will Genia, Michael Harris, Ben Lucas, Luke Morahan, Dom Shipperley, Aidan Toua, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, Lachie Turner, Ben Tapuai.
Michael Lynagh says:Similar to the Brumbies in that Ewen McKenzie has gone but Richard Graham was there last year and did much of the coaching. I think they need to look at their attacking platform because last year they just could not score any tries. A team that has Will Genia and Quade Cooper in their side would be scoring plenty of tries, but I think it made it easy for oppositions to close them down - if you close those two focal points down then you close the Reds down. Anthony Faingaa and Ben Tapuai will have to become second playmakers in the centres.
Player to watch: Will Genia had a quiet year last year and was not really in form. He has come out and said that he needs a big year in 2014.
Last Season: 9th
Captain: Dave Dennis
Ground:Sydney Football Stadium
Best performance: Runners-up (2005, 2008)
Forwards: Mitchell Chapman, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Tala Gray, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, David Horwitz, Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Pat McCutcheon, Wycliff Palu, Greg Peterson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Jacques Potgieter, Paddy Ryan, Benn Robinson, Will Skelton, Jeremy Tilse
Backs: Alofa Alofa, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Peter Betham, Matt Carraro, Cam Crawford, Bernard Foley, Israel Folau, Michael Hodge, Rob Horne, Jono Lance, Matt Lucas, Brendan McKibbin, Nick Phipps, Ben Volavola.
Michael Lynagh says: I think they are going to be the team to watch this year - although we seem to say that every year! Kurtley Beale coming back really adds another dimension to their attack and Bernard Foley is a really good fly-half. They also have Israel Folau, who is just an outstanding player and is still learning the game. Their forwards should be tough - that's the way coach Michael Cheika likes them and they should provide enough ball for a very exciting backline.
Player to watch: He may not start every game but when he does, you won't miss him! Will Skelton is a huge lock - he looks like an adult playing with kids when he is on. He is still very raw but has plenty of potential.
Last Season: 12th
Coach: Tony McGahan
Captain: Scott Higginbotham
Best performance: 12th (2013)
Forwards: Cruze Ah-Nau, Eddie Alohelei, Paul Alo-Emile, Colby Faingaa, Scott Fuglistaller, Scott Higginbotham, Shota Horie, Sam Jeffries, Luke Jones, Max Lahiff, Pat Leafa, Sean McMahon, Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Jordy Reid, Tom Sexton, Toby Smith, Chris Thomson, Lopeti Timani, Laurie Weeks.
Backs: Luke Burgess, Jack Debreczeni, Tamati Ellison, Tom English, Bryce Hegarty, Mitch Inman, Tom Kingston, Richard Kingi, Ben Meehan, Lachlan Mitchell, Angus Roberts, Alex Rokobaro, Nic Stirzaker, Telusa Veainu, Jason Woodward.
Michael Lynagh says: A new coach in Tony McGahan and the only way is up for them. Scott Higginbotham is back as captain and will play a key role after missing so much of last season down to injury. They had some good young players who stepped up last year - Bryce Hegarty and Jason Woodward to name two. If they get some ball then they could cause some damage, but their biggest problem is tightening up their defence. They had the worst defensive record last year and you cannot compete if you are missing so many tackles.
Player to watch: Scott Higginbotham will play a key role in leading his troops this season.
Click here for the Super rugby fixtures, live on Sky Sports