Dear cousin Tjastik,
Well my dearest cousin, it's been a while, forgive me. As always, I hope everything has been swell in Slovenia and that congratulations for almost surviving your winter. Our winter is coming, coinciding with the arrival of another Game Of Thrones season, boy oh boy, I'm rootin' and a tootin' with excitement.
Have you seen Game Of Thrones? Do they show it in Slovenia? If not, you can always be a ruthless criminal and download it or stream it, otherwise just read me and my homie The Wildcard's thoughts each week. We wrote this thing about the trailer.
I write to you because the other night I watch the Blues vs Waikato Chiefs, a rip-snorter of a footy game. These local derbies get all the kiwi rugby folk excited because we all know that the kiwi Super Rugby teams are the best teams in the competition and you know how us kiwis are down to earth, modest, lovely folk? Yeah, not when we're talking about our All Blacks or Super Rugby teams (All Blacks and Super Rugby teams are pretty much the same thing), we've play the best rugby, we've got the best teams.
But I'll keep it real with you Tjassy because the rest of Super Rugby kinda sucks and Super Rugby without a local derby, kinda sucks.
I knew I had to write to you after this game as it was just so fun to watch, with so many different facets or players who provided me with joy. The Chiefs won in a show of their experience and comfort with their systems with the Blues mounting a strong challenge, the Blues were kinda like a poor-man's Chiefs as they have the same talent scattered through their team but lack the wisdom gained and built up by the Chiefs in recent years.
Tana Umaga is trying to change the Blues, bring in some sort of culture and what not which is cool, it just takes some time and certainly won't happen in a season.
Aaron Cruden is easily the best No.10 in Aotearoa and he had a hand in pretty much everything for the Chiefs. Cruden's a lethal runner of the footy, knows when to feed his outside men and just oozes class, putting the ball deep down-field or sparking a counter-attack with the flick of a switch. The Chiefs' counter-attacks usually start with Damien McKenzie though and you know all about the smiling-violen don't ya?
I wrote to you about McKenzie because he's a genuine freak and we while we didn't see him at his very best on Friday night, he still had a strong influence on the game with 84 running metres, 3 defenders beaten and 4 offloads. Ponder this Tjastik; McKenzie ran 14 times and passed 14 times, which for a little fella is rather amazing as he's always keen to run it.
Charlie Ngatai has also taken Super Rugby by storm and the Chiefs won even without Ngatai in the second half. A fairly standard first half from Ngatai saw him make 53m, 2 clean breaks and beat 3 defenders ... in only 40 minutes! Now, Ngatai is a gun and he's probably worthy of a letter solely regarding him, but his young midfield partner is also a gun and I'm telling you Tjastik, Ngatai and Seta Tamanivalu will be the best mdifield pairing in the whole world when/if Ngatai's shoulder is all good.
However, if I were to give you a heads up about my favourite player, then I can't go past Tawera Kerr-Barlow. You know how we roll in Aotearoa Tjastik; Kerr-Barlow came on with Brad Weber still playing halfback and played a bit of flanker and in the midfield. That's a halfback playing flanker and midfield, he even went up to catch a bomb #2Easy and the Chiefs looked no worse with Kerr-Barlow steaming around the field like a maniac.
If you ever find the time Tjastik, take a moment to focus solely on Kerr-Barlow in a game. I don't think I've ever watched a bloke so enthusiastic as Kerr-Barlow, mixing it up in places he really shouldn't mix it up.
Kerr-Barlow had to play a bit of flanker because Sam Henwood came off the bench only to injure his knee, Henwood's a good young flanker and it's a bummer for him as I think he's had knee troubles before. Henwood, like winger Shaun Stevenson both went to school in Auckland, there ya go.
Melani Nanai scored a cool try for the Blues and Steven Luatua is warming into his work after a slow start to the season but all you need to know about the Blues is that they have the Ioane brothers. The Blues won't win Super Rugby, they probably won't make the finals which is thanks to them still growing as a team ... and come and go nature of the Ioane brothers' schedule as they're also involved in the New Zealand Sevens team.
Whether Rieko Ioane, the younger brother, is on the wing or at centre, he's a gun. Tall, lean, great footwork, excessively quick and like older brother Akira, Rieko is freakishly strong. The Blues got into this game Tjastik because of one lad; Akira Ioane. He came on and ran for 42m from 5 runs and beat 9 defenders!
Who was second with the most defenders from either team? Rieko with 6; the Ioane brother combined to beat 15 defenders which was almost more than the whole Chiefs team who beat a combined 18 defenders.
I know you'll be watching the Olympics Tjastik so make sure you catch the Sevens, if you're not watching for the copious amounts of entertainment you'll enjoy, at least just watch for the Ioane brothers.
I best be on my way, Jah bless Tjastik, Jah bless.