Two rounds in, the realities of what it takes to succeed in Super Rugby will be starting to hit home to some of the new players involved in the competition for the first time.
The Chiefs' loss to the Brumbies was a huge upset for the Hamilton-based side. It looked to me like some of the young guys just didn't want to tackle that day, almost as if they were still playing touch rugby. But the Super Rugby season has come back around and it is time for guys to get back on the horse and do what they need to do; it seemed a lot of guys were still playing touch at the beach.
I'm sure there will have been some soul searching done inside that camp and probably a whip cracked over a few of them because they did really let themselves down with some of their defence.
The Crusaders, meanwhile, are already humming; they proved that in dealing the the Hurricanes a rugby lesson. The defending champions just go about their business, they know exactly what they need to do. They play to a game plan, one they actually look like they practice on during the offseason; it doesn't always look that way for some other franchises.
The Blues were woeful. It was nothing but one-up runners; they were selfish with their, 'give me the ball, let me have a go' type of play. The one time they looked to create something by going wide, they scored a try. But they fail to play as a team. Against the Sharks, they didn't look as if they were prepared to create opportunities for the guy outside them who was going to score the try.
It's a case of them realising that they are not going to be the guy who scores the try, but instead be the man who provides the opportunity for the guy outside them to score. Any decision has got to be made for the benefit of the team. It's about realising that, if you do your job, someone else will score further down the chain and you can take reflective pride in having contributed to the effort.
It seems to me they all want to be the guy who scores the try and takes the glory. They haven't come anywhere in the last 10 years and as for the amount of no-look passes, I would just say: 'Guys get over it'. Look at the guy you are going to pass to and make sure he catches the ball. The ugliest pass in the world is the one that goes to ground. No-look or not, you look like a fool.
No doubt there will be some soul-searching at the Blues, but I don't think anyone wanted to get to the second week of the season and have to say 'here we go again'.
They showed us some promising signs in the first week against the Crusaders; they need to get back to playing like that.
The Highlanders may have won both their games in the later stages but that is typical Highlanders grit. They hang in there and do enough to keep in touch. They clearly have a lot of self-belief, and understand it's not always the pretty stuff that gets the job done; it can be quite ugly at times. But by just hanging in there and ensuring all 15 guys are working together and playing as a team, you can extract those sorts of results.
At the moment the North Island players can look at the South Island players and take a leaf out of their book and learn something from it.
No doubt the resting of All Blacks to get their required time without play through will become a talking point. The Hurricanes have suffered from that as much as anyone and that was clear when their senior players were introduced for the later stages of the Crusaders game.
It just goes to show that a lot of the players playing Super Rugby are coming out of Mitre 10 Cup and not realising that it is a step up. You can't expect to play like you did in the Mitre 10 Cup and look good in Super Rugby. You can't be that player now, you've got to be a team player and you've got to work with the guys because everyone's defence is good; everyone's a talented player.
I think from all the teams we've seen a bit of that go on.
The Sharks are going to test every team this year, they showed that in the way they played against the Blues. They're a quality side; each of the South Africans teams have shown they're here to play.
As for Australia, the Brumbies were hugely impressive against the Chiefs. It's World Cup year, and Australia and South Africa look to have woken up; some of their players have really begun the season strongly.
Right across the board teams are standing up and it is going to be a tough season.
On the local scene, the North Harbour Union has made the decision to not have representative sides below the Under-14 grade. I applaud them for having the courage to do that.
They want kids to have fun in their rugby and to stay engaged in the game and play rather than isolating a few representative players to tell them 'hey, you're going to be the next best thing'.
North Harbour has probably been one of the worst provinces in the world where they have pushy parents and they start touting their kids as an All Black at 12 years old. All they're doing is lumping pressure on the kids to carry that through when it should all be about enjoyment.
A whole bunch of All Blacks have come out and said they didn't make rep teams. I made my first rep team when I was 19 years old. I didn't play any of that stuff but I did have a real grudge about not making any of those teams. Ultimately, it should be all about enjoyment.
The amount of times, because I have played a bit of rugby and done a bit of coaching, I have had someone come up in the street and talk to me about their son and how he's going to be an All Black; the reality is that I could almost look that person in the eye and say 'no he's not'.
Ninety-nine percent of parents are probably going to be end up disappointed. There might be one percent of kids that kick on.
It's often a case of parents living their lives through their children.
I would just say to the parents, get off the field and let the kid have some fun. So I applaud what North Harbour have done because it is the right thing.
In this day and age, you're a successful parent if you can raise your kid to get through those dark stages all teenagers go through and have them ready to face the world having enjoyed themselves and their sport. Then you can say you're a successful parent.