Super 14 2008 Guide for Fans and Punters

Betting agencies have released their odds for this year’s Super 14 and as usual there is a mish mash of the perennial favourites, the perennially overpriced underachievers, and the perennially underpriced over achievers.

So to see whether your team is worth putting any money on, consult this betting guide:

Crusaders
The Super 14's traditional favourites are once again the bookie’s favourite despite a disappointing 2007 by their lofty standards. Coach Robbie Deans will have one eye on the Australian teams this year as his potential Wallabies chargers try to impress. Dean’s second job may prove distracting and tiring and take away from his social life, certainly that was the Rolling Maul’s experience when delivering pizzas many years ago.

Current Price: $3.50
Recommendation: Not worth it at that price
Prediction: 5th place

Blues
David Nucifora is mightily peeved that Robbie Deans stole the Wallabies coaching position from under his nose and has a point to prove. The Blues fell into the finals last year after being frontrunners for much of the season despite Graham Henry resting most of the team’s stars. With a full compliment of All Blacks at his disposal Nucifora is ready to rumble.

Current Price: $4.75
Recommendation: Reasonable odds but not great value
Prediction: 5th place

Waratahs
Look up ‘Rugby “perennial underachievers”’ in Google and up pops the Waratahs (really). The Waratahs are always loaded with talent and expectation and their long suffering fans have rebelled in response with the near-empty Sydney Football Stadium echoing to the missed kicks and fumbled passes of another missed try or conversion that would have sealed a finals berth. This season promises a return to the glory days, early form, glimpses of the promised land, failure in South Africa, upset losses at home. Still, it’s a mighty improvement on 2007.

Current Price: $6.00
Recommendation: Tell ‘em they’re dreaming
Prediction: 5th place

Bulls
Everyone’s easybeats won the comp last year but there were extenuating circumstances. None of the New Zealand teams performed as normal after being hobbled by the National coach, and even when those players did start they either got injured or were out of form as would be expected from players that had no pre-season matches. Things should return to normal this season, with calls emanating from the South African media within weeks of the Super 14 starting for South Africa to abandon the competition due to the inherent travel disadvantage.

Current Price: $9.00
Recommendation: Forget it. If you’re going to put your money in South Africa buy gold and diamond company shares.
Prediction: 5th place

Chiefs
The invisible team of the Supers 14s, no one knows if the Chiefs have ever made the Finals or not. Looking at least year’s results it seems they won 5 on the trot to just miss out, making them the anti-Waratahs. Will the streak continue? Will this team have enough Indians? And where the hell is Waikato anyway?

Current Price: $9.00
Recommendation: Who knows?
Prediction: 5th place

Sharks
See ‘Bulls’.

Current Price: $11.00
Recommendation: Forget it. If you’re going to put your money in South Africa buy gold and diamond company shares.
Prediction: 5th place

Hurricanes
So abject was the Hurricanes’ 2007 season that they capped it off by losing to the Waratahs in the final round. And now with Tana Umaga retired and Ma’a Nonu a mere shadow of his former self there is little to look forward to. Though with Neemia Tialata, Rodney So'oialo, and Tane Tu'ipulotu also in the team the Hurricanes tradition of boasting the most apostrophes and vowels in the Super 14 is set to continue.

Current Price: $13.00
Recommendation: Fo’orget it.
Prediction: 5th place

Brumbies
George Gregan and Stephen Larkham may have retired but the reality is that they had been effectively retired for years. Laurie Fisher knew that but valued his job more than David Nucifora so did nothing about it. Now that the deadwood has been extracted Laurie can get on with the job of giving Canberra its biggest thing to cheer about since the last Federal election, although Julian Huxley is no Larkham and Josh Holmes is no Gregan even if he is threatening to shave his head.

Current Price: $23.00
Recommendation: Worth an each-way bet
Prediction: 5th place

Force
Isolation can do strange things to a man’s mind, and Perth is the most isolated city on the planet. It can also breed an us-versus-them mentality which, when it comes to sport, is not necessarily a bad thing. So with the added motivation of getting the West Coast Eagles off the back and front pages of the West Australian, Force players and administrators went to great extremes to embarrass themselves and their sport during the off-season. And it worked. After all, you’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you.

Current Price: $34.00
Recommendation: Good value
Prediction: 5th place

Reds
The one-man team that are the Chris Latham Reds were a no-man team last season and it showed. Well that one-man is back in action for this, his last season, so expect improvement, not that they could get any worse.

Current Price: $41.00
Recommendation: Not worth a bet at any price
Prediction: 5th place

The Rest
It’s probably more a comment on how much gambling the various countries do that the Waratahs and Reds are so favoured in the betting despite coming second-last and last respectively in 2007. That the three South African teams that only did marginally better than the Reds and Waratahs last year are poorly favoured in the betting may just show a lack of imagination and knowledge from those that frame the odds. Same thing can’t be said for the Highlanders though. An average 2007 and the loss of most of their All Blacks and even the jokes at the betting agencies recognise they haven’t got a chance in 2008.

Stormers, Cheetahs, Highlanders, Lions
Current Price: $51.00, $67.00, $201.00, $201.00
Recommendation: Always fun to go for a roughie and as the Bulls and Sharks showed it can pay off. Of this lot the Cheetahs may be the best bet, winning 4 games last season when most predicted they’d win none. The Lions too won 5 games so worth an each-way bet.
Prediction: 5th place

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