Super Rugby semi-finals picks: Can the Hurricanes make it an all-Kiwi final and if so, who will join them?

There's just three games to go but trying to predict where that final game will be is an absolute nightmare - lucky the 1 NEWS oracles are back to pick this week's semi-final winners!

Both Ryan Crotty and Joe Moody said Scott Robertson wants the team putting out their absolute best. Source: 1 NEWS

How it works: 1 NEWS sports reporters will chip in their picks for matches involving New Zealand sides each round with each adding a little insight into the choice involving their side. A correct result will give them two points and a correct margin a bonus point!

Crusaders v Chiefs
Lions v Hurricanes

Andrew Saville - 1 NEWS Blues reporter, sports presenter

Crusaders v Chiefs: Crusaders 1-12
"The Chiefs have been the Crusaders' bogey team in the playoffs, but now the home team has a chance to bury those demons."

Lions v Hurricanes: Hurricanes 13+
"Too much speed, too much power."

Stephen Stuart - 1 NEWS Sports reporter

Crusaders v Chiefs: Crusaders 1-12
"While the Chiefs have generally had the wood on the Crusaders during Dave Rennie's six year tenure, travel history suggests the two time champions will come up just short - JUST!"

Lions v Hurricanes: Hurricanes 13+
"The Hurricanes own the Lions. 8-0 heading into Sunday morning. They put 50 on them in Jo'burg last year and they should run riot again against a side that did its best to fall in a heap last week."

John McKenzie - 1 NEWS Hurricanes reporter

Crusaders v Chiefs: Crusaders 1-12
Lions v Hurricanes: Hurricanes 13+

Matt Manukia - 1 NEWS league reporter

Crusaders v Chiefs: Crusaders 13+
Lions v Hurricanes: Hurricanes 1-12

Matt Hall Smith - 1 NEWS South Island sport reporter

Crusaders v Chiefs: Crusaders 1-12
Lions v Hurricanes: Hurricanes 13+

Brodyn Knuckey - 1 NEWS sport producer

Crusaders v Chiefs: Crusaders 1-12

Lions v Hurricanes: Hurricanes 1-12
"Don't count the Lions out. Table-toppers away in South Africa is no easy fixture after long flights but you've still got to back that talented back line to get the job done."

Josh Reich - 1 NEWS NOW Homepage Editor

Crusaders v Chiefs: Crusaders 1-12
Lions v Hurricanes: Hurricanes 1-12

Faleatua Malili - 1 NEWS sport producer

Crusaders v Chiefs: Chiefs 1-12
Lions v Hurricanes: Hurricanes 13+

Scoreboard: Saville 135, Knuckey 133, Malili 132, Reich 131, Stuart 130, Hall-Smith 118, Manukia 110, McKenzie 110

Stephen Stuart and Guy Heveldt pick apart this week's Super Rugby action. Source: 1 NEWS

Wallabies star Israel Folau wins Waratahs MVP award despite controversial year

Superstar fullback Israel Folau has won the Matthew Burke Cup, the NSW Waratahs players' players award.

The Wallabies back polled 99 votes, to finish ahead of captain and openside flanker Michael Hooper (77), backrower Michael Wells (71) and inside centre Kurtley Beale (65).

Votes were cast on a 3-2-1 basis by members of each match day squad after the Waratahs Super Rugby games.

Wells won the Waratahs best forward award and Beale took out the gong for their best back.

The NSW women's player of the year was veteran back Ash Hewson, who captained her state to the inaugural Super W title.

SYDNEY, NSW - MARCH 18: Waratahs player Israel Folau (14) looks towards the scoreboard at round 5 of the Super Rugby between Waratahs and Rebels at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on March 18, 2018. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire)
Waratahs player Israel Folau. Source: Photosport



Rampaging Northland forwards combine for exquisite try as Taniwha dominate Southland

Northland piled on the hurt for Southland in the Mitre 10 Cup, handing the visitors their 17th consecutive loss with the Taniwha winning 26-10 at Toll Stadium in Whangārei last night.

The home team dominated the Stags in the first spell, running in three tries to lead at the break 19-3.

The try of the match came in the 17th minute, when several Northland forwards combined down the left edge for a brilliant play.

Number eight Matt Matich made a line-break from the back of the breakdown just outside the Stag's 40 metre line, then linked up with Isileli Tu'ungafasi who bowled over Southland's halfback Jay Renton with ease after a charging run.

Northland quickly shifted the ball down the left flank where Kara Pryor threw a dummy before popping up a perfect pass to Matich who crossed over for Northland's second try of the match.

The Taniwha will now take on Hawke's Bay next on Wednesday at McLean Park in Napier.

Northland sit third on the Mitre 10 Cup Championship ladder.

Northland 26: (Matt Mattich, Sam Nock, Murray Douglas 2 tries; Jack Debreczeni 3 cons)

Southland 10: (Manaaki Selby-Rickit try; James Wilson pen, Broc Hooper con) HT: 19-3

The Taniwha defeated the Stags 26-10 in Whangārei. Source: SKY



Jamie Joseph sets Brave Blossoms quarter-final goal for 2019 RWC - 'It's a chance to create history'

With just a year to go before the 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off, Japan coach Jamie Joseph says his side have freed themselves from their fear of failure and are fully capable of securing an historic quarter-final berth.

When Joseph took the reins from Eddie Jones in 2016, Japan's players were not ready to buy into his rugby philosophy and needed time to grasp the concepts he was trying to get across, the 48-year-old New Zealander said.

"When I came here, the Japanese players were reactive, waiting for leadership and direction," he told a recent news conference to mark the one-year countdown to the global showpiece.

"They were reluctant to challenge or be proactive, reluctant to make a mistake, reluctant to try something until they fully understood it 100 per cent."

Joseph, a former All Black who also played for Japan at the 1999 World Cup, said the team were different now.

"What I am seeing now is players who are confident, players that are proactive, players that are trying things in a game," he added.

"They are not worried about making mistakes, not worried about failure but instead just excited about having a go.

"I think this is how they are going to win."

Joseph, who also took charge of the Sunwolves Super Rugby team this season, said that if Japan can iron out some of the inconsistencies that have plagued them recently they could reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time.

"I wouldn't say that I am incredibly confident but I think we are in a very good spot a year out from the World Cup and we are starting to create a little bit of momentum," he added.

"I have explained to the players it is a chance to create history."

As hosts, Japan have been drawn in Pool A alongside Ireland, Scotland, Russia and Samoa.

When asked whether his team were prepared for the tournament, Joseph said: "We are already there really."

"Over the last two years the players understand the gameplan better and are more comfortable with myself and the coaching group," he added.

"Next year is the year we start polishing what we are doing."

Team Japan and Craig Wing of Japan celebrate victory Source: Getty


World Rugby confident Japan will deliver stellar World Cup as countdown ticks under one year

Nine years after the bold decision to take their showpiece tournament out of the sport's traditional heartlands for the first time, World Rugby are confident Japan will vindicate the gamble by delivering a top-class World Cup in 2019.

The hosts face Russia in the opening match of the tournament at Tokyo Stadium on September 20 next year - in Asia's first Rugby World Cup.

While a lack of experience among organisers led to a few road blocks along the way, World Rugby believe everything is now pretty much in hand.

"There are no major obstacles for the last 12 months," World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said in Tokyo on Wednesday ahead of the celebrations to mark the one-year countdown.

"They have organised themselves well and they are on schedule for this last year. It hasn't always been like this but now they are in a very good position."

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said Japan hosting the tournament was the culmination of a decision first made in 1997 to expand into Asia and beyond the traditional tier one nations.

"What it has done is give us an opportunity to grow the game in an area that we think has potentially huge growth," the former England captain said.

"That is the reason we are here - to leave a legacy to the game. This is vitally important."

The success of Japan 2019 has the potential to determine long-term plans for the World Cup as World Rugby look to balance a desire to spread the game into new markets with a need to be financially sustainable.

World Rugby vice chairman Agustin Pichot warned last week that the international game was under threat of financial ruin.

"World Rugby will have to have a philosophical debate going forward," explained Beaumont, who has already overseen the awarding of the rights to the 2023 World Cup to France.

"Do you always have to keep chasing the money? Because what you find is that you would only end up with a few countries being able to host it.

"The issue is that the Rugby World Cup is World Rugby's only source of income.

"We are in a very strong financial position but we redistribute all our funds back to the game so it is very important we are commercially successful.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw holds aloft the William Webb Ellis Cup after winning Rugby World Cup Final. New Zealand All Blacks v Australia Wallabies, Twickenham Stadium, London, England. Saturday 31 October 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga /
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw holds aloft the William Webb Ellis Cup after winning Rugby World Cup Final. Source: Photosport