Category: Player analysis
When Jordie Barrett touches down in Chicago this week to link up with the All Blacks as an apprentice on their end-of-year tour, he will do so as one of the most accomplished age-grade rugby players on the planet. Over the past six months, the nineteen-year-old has been the stand-out performer in a New Zealand U20 side whose fifth place finish in June belied its talent level, played a key role in Canterbury’s thirteenth National Provincial Championship (clocking the most NPC minutes of any U19-eligible player in the last five seasons) and signed his first Super Rugby contract with the Hurricanes. Exposure to the All Black environment over the coming weeks will accelerate his development both on and off the field, and with regular opportunities in Super Rugby early in 2017 he could begin to make a claim for a place in the playing squad sooner rather than later.
Analysis of Clermont’s Argentinean fly-half Patricio Fernández, focusing on the Top 14 fixture vs. Castres on Sat 1st Oct 2016.
A star at Grey College, a Currie Cup and Super Rugby regular for the Free State Cheetahs as a teenager and a capped Springbok shortly after his 20th birthday, this was not the trajectory that many expected Johan Goosen to follow. The prodigiously talented fly-half – still only 23 years old – saw his promising career in his homeland waylaid by a series of long-term injuries, and the emergence of starlet Handré Pollard in their wake; in August 2014, he joined up with Racing 92 in the Top 14 in search of new challenges and – as he has openly admitted – financial stability. His first two seasons in Paris have seen a run in with first-team coach Laurent Labit, and opportunities in his favoured 10 shirt limited by the presence of established stars Jonny Sexton and Dan Carter. He made only 8 starts in the Top 14 in the 2014/15 season, and during the majority of this campaign has rotated between starts at fullback and a role on the bench. However, during the knockout stages of the Champions Cup he has been utilised in an unfamiliar role at outside centre and has played well individually in some impressive team performances over the last couple of months. His contest with the impressive Duncan Taylor will be one of many captivating match-ups in Lyon tomorrow afternoon, and it will be intriguing to see how Saracens attempt to attack a player who – out of his natural position in the centres – may represent the relative weak link in Racing’s excellent defence.
Below, I will take a look at some of the qualities Goosen displayed when he came on to the scene in the southern hemisphere in the 2012 and 2013 seasons, and examine his semi-final performance in detail to look at what he offers the Parisians in this position and potential weaknesses Saracens may exploit.