Huge games in prospect, yes, "Bigger than Texas".
The derby games, Reds vs Wattalaughs, Crusaders vs Highlanders and the mega huge North Island battle, Canes vs Blues.
The rest of the games are "who cares results".
The Blues have Cashmore back at fullback, a kicker at last. Jonah returns for the Canes and "Yates" has a rest, he's thinking of turning to pro wrestling I hear!
As this game is in Wellington, the Canes look likely winners. Their backs are so dangerous too. The Blues will match them up front, maybe even gain an advantage, but the backs will tip the balance uphill. Last week Ai'i stuffed up so many times with line kicking and option taking, the pressure this week will be far greater again and probably too much. Innes is solid at 2nd five, but after that, it gets shaky.
Two try, Troy Flavell, is the "man of the moment" for the Blues. Expect another big one from him. Dowd and Thomson and Heeps are a great front row Blowers was fantastic as well last week. If the backs had a decent 5/8 to complement them, (like 'Mehrtens") we'd kick some butts in the capital.
I'm not worried by the return of Jonah and Tiatia, I doubt they will finish the game. I'm sure a few balls, high ones, will test Jonah's wee finger out. Don't kick the ball to Cullen, flatten, steamroll even, Umaga, and I can see us getting 4 tries and leaving with a draw. The Blues have the form book (previous clashes) on there side, which shows the Canes have never beaten the Blues!!
Across the Tasman The Reds look like they are back in the winners circle, and the Wattalaughs, well maybe they will rise to the occasion. Eales is set to return, but more injuries to Smith and Cordingley, leave them in doubt. Tune has been ruled out. I'm expecting a 1-12 point winning scoreline to the Reds, unless Burke can get his kicking boots on, its 3 in a row for the Wattalaughs.
Meanwhile down south we have a rerun of last years final. The Highlanders have had a well earned rest. They will need it as the Crusaders had the wood on them last year. Home advantage is a leveller in these games, and a wee bit of luck, a la Mehrtens, a la Marshall, (how can we forget Jules!)
I think the Highlanders will fizz out after an hour and Toddy's boys will prove too strong.(sorry Macca!!)