Here we go again for another season of Super Rugby, which in my opinion is the best league in world rugby, for all its flair and flaws.
I’ll be sharing my Superbru picks each week and looking for another strong finish in the upper echelons of the various pool leaderboards. You can take me on in The Rugby Blog pool here.
Here are my Super Rugby predictions for Round 1.
Blues v Chiefs
The Blues defeated the Chiefs in their pre-season match recently, but I’m not sure how much influence that will have on the opening Super Rugby fixture. With Warren Gatland at the coaching helm, I’m looking forward to seeing how the Chiefs fare this year, perhaps adding some defensive rigour to their exciting attack, and they should be contenders for the title. More so than the Blues anyway, even when Beauden Barrett features later in the season. Chiefs by 4
Brumbies v Reds
The Reds beat both the Rebels and the Waratahs in pre-season, but the Brumbies are expected to be the top Australian team this season, and given that the home team usually wins this fixture, a pick for the Brumbies is the way to go in week 1. Brumbies by 7
Sharks v Bulls
The Sharks’ record against the Bulls is absolutely dreadful, and you have to go back to 2014 for their most recent victory in Super Rugby. Instinct is telling me to pick the home team, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bulls take this one. Sharks by 2
Sunwolves v Rebels
I feel a bit sorry for the Sunwolves, facing their last season before they are axed from Super Rugby, making it very difficult to retain or attract players. Only three members of last year’s squad features this year, and I think they are going to face some heavy defeats. I’m not expecting much from the Rebels overall this season, but they’ll still win this one. Rebels by 23
Crusaders v Waratahs
The Crusaders may have won three titles in a row, but this is going to be a very different side, particularly up front where Owen Franks, Sam Whitelock, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua and Kieran Read are all absent. Such is the depth of talent in New Zealand though that I’m sure some young guns will come through to fill their boots and you’d expect them to dispatch the Waratahs in the opening round. Crusaders by 13
Stormers v Hurricanes
The Hurricanes haven’t won at Newlands since 2006, and losing both pre-season games to the Crusaders and the Blues won’t have helped their confidence too much. I might reserve the final judgement until I have seen the team lineups, but for now I am leaning towards the Capetonians to get their season off to a strong start. Stormers by 4
Jaguares v Lions
The Lions have sent a strong squad to Buenos Aires for their season opener, but this is a tough away trip for any side. The Lions lost twice to the Bulls in pre-season, whilst the Jaguares thrashed Georgia twice, but I’m not sure how much can be read into those results. I think the Jaguares will challenge at the top of the SA conference this season, and with that in mind, I’m backing them for a win at home to kick off their campaign. Jaguares by 7
Let me know what you think of my Superbru pick! Good luck.