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@ TVaddict - some good rationale there and it's difficult to argue with your predictions. we all could, with equally good rationale, but time will tell.
As a Bath fan, I think we've done ok in shoring up the FR. In fact the pack is in a better place than it's been for a while (as soon as those nasty saffas give us Flo back!). I reckon we're a prop light on the LH side, but we're not too bad overall.
I think it's our half-backs which are the problem. the 9 - 10 axis has been marred by injuries and loss of form. Claassens is just that - class, but Beaver and Heathcote are both injured, so our 10 has a depth issue.
Centres aren't so bad, as long as we can make a decision about where to play Bananaman. I agree we could do with an "electric line-breaker", but they're not too shabby.
And the back 3 are ok, especially with Agulla joining and Eastmond starting to find his Union feet. Here's how I see our starting 15 (injuries, international duties and form notwithstanding, and the squad captain - Hooper - on the bench!):
FR - Webber, Wilson & James
2R - Caldwell & Attwood
BR - Fearns, Louw & Taylor
1/2 Backs - Claassens (c) & Donald
C - Barkley & Bananaman
Back 3 - Agulla, Biggs & Bendy.
Goose-bumps starting to form...
Bring on the Warriors!!
Posted 12:09 30th August 2012
You shouldn't underestimate the Edwards factor at Irish (why are some of these coaching appointments a complete surprise to me? I thought I followed the comings and goings in the premiership)
Irish, for all their attacking prowess have occasionally looked like they've left a bit on the field. I think that Shaun Edwards has a limited coaching outlook and his attitude has a shelf life but one thing he encourages is a level of committed physicality on the field that is second to none. (Is he still involved in the Welsh setup?) That may be the difference on the field this season and I think that Irish could be outsiders rather than mid-tablers
Posted 12:09 30th August 2012
It's a shame so many good players left London Irish as I think we'd have been really competitive with the like of Nick Kennedy, Delon Armitage and Dan Bowden plus the new recruits. I'm seeing this season as:
-Leicester have class everywhere so I think they'll to top the table and reach the final, this time get the win. Also, Ford to shine this year.
-Harlequins in the top four but loose to Leicester in the semis.
-Saracens to come second but loose to Northampton who can match them in the forwards but have more fire power in their back line.
-Northampton to come in third but beat Saracens to make the final.
-London Irish to have some moments of brilliance but ultimately will need another year at least to develop. I'm predicting 8th, and for Garvey and Joseph to impress.
-Gloucester to have some great matches too, as they always do, but ultimately they will be too weak in the forwards to compete with the bigger teams. I'm predicting 5th.
-Exeter did very well last season, but I can't help but feel that it was mainly because of the international commitments of other teams. They've got a great set piece, but I think other team will be prepared for them this year so I think 7th.
-Bath don't have enough quality players throughout their team in my opinion. The front row isn't that strong and the centres aren't exciting enough so I'm predicting them 9th.
-Wasps have some very exciting players, but not enough, so 10th would be a small improvement from last years 11th.
-Sale actually have quite an exciting team on paper, but I don't think they'll be able to bring that all together in one season to compete at the top but I can see them getting 6th
-Worcester lack quality and consistence so I can only see 11th.
-London Welsh didn't have long enough to prepare a team, and they have Henson on their list of players, can't see past relegation.
Posted 11:12 30th August 2012
Can't wait. Not long now. COYS!!
Posted 20:42 29th August 2012
I think Sale will be a genuine contender this year under Redpath, as long as Cipriani doesn't make too many clangers...
Posted 16:06 29th August 2012
It's good see Bath in the "Outsiders", rather than the "Destined for the basement" section.
And here's to another cracking season!
Posted 15:34 29th August 2012
This season i feel is going to be the hardest and closest yet.When you actually look at the teams ,they all look like they can beat eachother on the day.and im including London Welsh in that statement.With no RWC and players wanting to hopefully impress the England mangement,or even WG and Lions selectors ,.There is going to be some titantic battles between teams ,and players.Id also have to put Gloucester in the contenders list myself ,N.Davies is a very good coach ,and the talant there now is well formidable ,perhaps equal to Leicester,Sarries and Quins now .,while Exeter will be looking tokep the pressure on the big boys .Anyway its certinally looking like a great season ahead .Lets hope injuries are few and theres alot of WOW plays from all the teams..
Posted 15:11 29th August 2012