The Super Rugby season kicks off this weekend with just four Aussie sides taking part after the Force’s removal from the competition. Amongst the local contingent, the Waratahs are the side most expected to make the final, however, the Rebels may be the one to watch after making a few astute signings late last year.
Here’s what we’re thinking for the Australian matchups this week.
The Rebels and Reds open their season tonight with many expecting a close game.
The Melbourne side endured a tough season last year, but with home ground advantage and a few new reinforcements in their squad, they will start the game as favourites.
However, the Brad Thorn coached Reds will offer plenty of resistance and showed during the Brisbane Global Rugby 10’s that they could spring a few surprises this year.
We’re still backing David Wessels’ side to win this one, but it might be worth considering the Reds at the line or even the Rebels by a small margin.
Tip: Rebels to win
The Brumbies are expected to do it easy in Japan when they open their season against the Sunwolves on Saturday.
Stephen Larkham’s men have never lost to their Asian opponent, galloping home to a 66-5 win the last time the sides met.
In that respect, many are asking not if Canberra will win this one, but by how much.
Although the Tokyo based team won their final game of the season last year, in the three games previous they lost by a margin of 40+ points.
For us, the Brumbies to win and win big.
Tip: ACT Brumbies at the line
The Waratahs will be out to avoid a season like 2017 in which they registered just four victories in 15 games.
Although they haven’t been all that active in the player market over the summer, they still enter their season opener against the Stormers as early favourites.
That said, the generous odds on the African team aren’t to be ignored after their Week 1 Super Rugby win over a spirted Jaguares side.
The Newlands outfit enjoyed a fruitful season last year winning 10 of 15 games and scoring a tick under 500 points in the process.
In that respect, don’t be surprised if the Stormers offer plenty of resistance to a NSW side that may take a little time to settle into the game.
Tip: Waratahs (but only just)