Tony Veitch: Super fare turning sour

Digby Ioane of the Crusaders. Photo / Photosport
Digby Ioane of the Crusaders. Photo / Photosport

When you break your right ankle in two places and completely stuff your left as well, it gives you time to put your feet up, reassess the complications of life and just watch sport.

Sounds like heaven, doesn't it? But here's the thing. When I'm out, I often get punters asking me all sorts of questions about sporting issues. I love it.

Fronting a radio show should be no different to a couple of people debating sport over a beer. What surprises most of those I meet is the assertion that I am not obsessed with sport. Yes, I love my job. It rocks my world, some would argue too much.

But that does not mean I sit glued to every Super Rugby or NRL game. That would do my head in. What I love is the theatre and incredible storylines, like the way the Patriots won the Super Bowl.

Last year was littered with similar examples. It was a sporting year like no other.

But without wanting to write off 2017 already, I'm worried. The America's Cup will again challenge our patience and fortitude.

And sure, we have the Lions - 20,000 fans on the large in New Zealand for six weeks will be epic. My issue is the lead-up, the Super Rugby entree.

I loved last year's competition. Not because the Hurricanes made history and the Kiwi teams owned their Australian and South African rivals, but because the rugby was spectacular, the best I've seen.

So I could live on my diet of ferocious Kiwi derbies followed up by, well, crap.

Here we are in week two of the competition and the Sanzaar power brokers are heading to Dublin to sort out what next year may look like. New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew says it's too early to judge this season after one round. I don't think so.

Try and tell me this season will not be a repeat of last, with Kiwis dominant. Even Australia's leading bookies have four New Zealand franchises as the favourites, with the Blues not far back.

I had a couple of interesting chats this week with two Wallabies, one current, one former. Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore was happy to admit there is the chance of history repeating this year, and that Australia's depth is being gutted by overseas offers.

Former Wallaby and new Crusader Digby Ioane is 31 and has played all over the world but says he's never previously experienced the level of professionalism he has at the Crusaders. It's next level, says Ioane.

The reason he joined a New Zealand rather than Australian side was all about understanding why New Zealand rugby is so dominant. Even in the twilight of his career, New Zealand can help him become a better player.

Something has to change. Growing the game in new parts of the world isn't working. As some of the All Blacks who have taken up lucrative deals to play in Japan have told me, the rugby is rubbish.

Remember Ma'a Nonu taking on the goalkicking duties for his club.
Imagine what kind of shape the Sunwolves will be in after their New Zealand road trip against the Crusaders, Highlanders and Chiefs.

The Jaguares will show South American passion for as long as their weary bodies hold out but will be beaten by the travel.

Chatting with Tew, he confirmed New Zealand is the only market where ratings and crowds did not fall in 2016.

South Africa can politicise this competition all it wants but reality has surely set in - they cannot sustain six teams.

Australia is heading for even more financial woe. The one thing I do know is that the competition we're watching this weekend will not be the same as next year.

Good luck to those rugby minds in Dublin - perhaps they can bear in mind that less is often more.

- NZ Herald

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