Three bold predictions for the 2022/23 United Rugby Championship season

We are only a week away from the new URC season after months of waiting. Despite the competition being very new, the upcoming year looks to be an incredibly exciting season.

1.The Sharks win the title

Despite already boasting some of the best South African players in the world, the Sharks were beaten by the Bulls in the URC quarter-finals by just three points back in June. It was a really disappointing loss for a very good team

But this summer the Sharks have added Eben Etzebeth, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Vincent Tshituka. Etzebeth continues to look like one of the best players in the world even though he never really established himself with Toulon. The Sharks have had a brilliant summer.

It means that they can boast an incredibly talented team when all healthy and I think this team, combined with the home advantage for South African teams is enough for the Sharks to upset holders the Stormers and Leinster to win the URC.

2.Vincent Tshituka wins player of the year

Part of the reason why I see the Sharks winning the title is the continued performances of new signing Vincent Tshituka. Tshituka was one of the few bright spots of the poor Lions season. He played really well alongside his brother Emmanuel.

The youngster has one numerous URC Player of the Match awards as well as winning URC player of the month. Having played for four years with the Lions, it is is a big loss to the team and a big recruitment for the Sharks.

Tshituka has a big job ahead alongside Springboks captain Siya Kolisi. But I think that as Tshituka is not play internationally at the moment, he will play enough games to again prove his brilliance and take home the Player of the Season trophy.

3.Cardiff to make the top eight

It was a pretty terrible season for the Welsh teams, with none of them reaching the top eight despite a good end to the season from the Ospreys. But I think it will be Cardiff Rugby who break through into the top eight this season.

It starts at the top with Cardiff, who are managed by Dai Young who coached the team from 2003 to 2011 before taking the job again in 2020. Young and Cardiff had a very good summer, recruiting Welsh superstars Liam Williams and Taulupe Faletau as well as the incredibly talented Lopeti Timani.

It means that Cardiff have a very talented team with Welsh internationals at every position. Cardiff will also benefit from having a much healthier team, with last season massively interrupted by injuries. When they were healthy, Cardiff looked good but the team were just rarely completely healthy.

Part of Cardiff making the top eight I think also comes from the Scottish teams not starting the year as strongly as they did last year. I think Cardiff can really compete with the Glasgow and Edinburgh and I believe that they will make the top eight.

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