The Mitre 10 Cup will get underway on the 16th of August. Check out our rugby scribe’s preview for the tournament.
Super Rugby may be over but you’ll still be able to witness New Zealand domestic sides tear up pitches in ‘the land of the long white cloud’ with the Mitre 10 Cup getting underway on Thursday the 16th of August.
- North Harbour
As always, Canterbury come into this one as overwhelming favourites to claim yet another title. The men from New Zealand’s South Island have 9 of the 12 edition’s of the tournament but may find it tougher this year as they are sure to be without the services of pivot Richie Mo’unga, who almost single-handedly guided them to the title last year.
Nevertheless, the Cantabrian’s posses a solid squad who are more than capable of making it 10 from 13.
Canterbury’s arch-rivals, Taranaki, were unlucky to miss out on the title last year. They enjoyed a rollicking round-robin phase that saw them finish the regular season at the summit of the Premiership standings.
The Bulls have a solid squad but may suffer somewhat from the departure of Crusaders flyer, Seta Tamaniavulu, who is off to France.
Dark Horse: Wellington
Wellington may have only been promoted to the Premiership this season but they are certainly a side to keep your eye on. They were a class above last term, only suffering one defeat from their 11 fixtures.
They have a very talented young squad that features the dynamic young hooker, Asafo Aumua, workaholic utility back, Wes Goosen, and Super Rugby 2018’s top try scorer, Ben Lam.
I’m backing the underdogs to claim the title. A few of their big names have been left out of New Zealand’s Rugby Championship squad which will make them a rather fearsome prospect to face.
- Bay of Plenty
- Hawke’s Bay
Having been relegated from the Premier Division last season, Waikato will be desperate to bounce back on the first attempt and eat at the top table in 2019. They endured a miserable 2017 campaign, finishing at the foot of Premiership standings with just two wins to their names.
They may be hard-tasked to achieve this, however, as their squad isn’t the most prolific. And they certainly need their young guns to step up to the plate if they are to return to the Premiership.
Bay of Plenty
They may have only won five of their regular season games last year but Bay of Plenty are certainly a side capable of taking the second tier of New Zealand rugby by storm.
They have a vastly experienced squad which is complemented by a few young guns who will be desperate to earn themselves a 2019 Super Rugby contract.
Dark Horse: Northland
This Northland side really looks good on paper with the likes of JJone Macilai-Tori, Tamati Tua, and Kara Pryor all having a decent amount of Super Rugby experience. They endured a rather disappointing campaign last term, just missing out on the semi-finals. However, they have the quality and experience to go all the way this time around.
Verdict: Northland / Bay of Plenty
These two sides should be the strongest in the league by some margin. They have quality squads and won’t be affected as much by All Black call-ups as some of their rivals.