They lost a few good players but the main reason they lost them was because they were at the back of a long queue in their respective positions. So it looks bad that Pulu left, but then how much would he play in a squad that has Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Brad Weber? They would have liked to have kept Williams and Tamanivalu but they have Charlie Ngatai and Anton Lienert-Brown. So they might not have the same depth but they aren’t greatly damaged by the personnel losses they have su ered.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TACTICALLY?
They will look to play like they did for the first 10 weeks of 2016. They were almost untouchable then, playing with confidence to throw the ball out of the tackle. Some of their continuity play was brilliant and their creative passing at a di erent level. When they generated pace and width, they looked like champions.
GUT FEEL – RISERS OR FALLERS?
Neither really but if pushed into having to commit, probably risers. How so? They have largely the same squad as last year and because this is Dave Rennie’s last season as coach, the players will want to say sorry for letting him down with the whole Strippergate thing.
WHERE WILL THEY FINISH?
Okay, we said last year that we thought they were going to be champions. They couldn’t nail the number one qualifying spot on the last day and ultimately paid the price when they had to travel to South Africa for the quarterfinal, which drained them for the semi. Still think they are the most balanced squad who have the right players in the key positions to go all the way.