Super Rugby preview: the non-NZ teams

Lions playmaker Elton Jantjies. Photo: Getty Images
Lions playmaker Elton Jantjies. Photo: Getty Images
It is mid-February, so Super Rugby must kick off in a couple of days. Rugby writer Steve Hepburn looks at the chances of the 10 teams from outside New Zealand.

Lions

Last year: finalist

Coach: Swys de Bruin

Up side: always been there, deep pool of players, good spine, Elton Jantjies saves his best for Super Rugby

Down side: lost some key players, not a great draw to start

Prediction: seventh

 

Waratahs

Last year: semifinals

Coach: Daryl Gibson

Up side: possess some of the best players in the competition, in a weak conference

Down side: not much depth, lack consistency, prone to off-field dramas

Prediction: semifinals

 

Jaguares

Last year: quarterfinals

Coach: Gonzalo Quesada (new)

Up side: coming off a good year, combinations will not be lacking

Down side: key man Nicolas Sanchez has gone to France, Juan Martin Hernandez has retired, won't catch anyone unawares

Prediction: 11th

 

Sharks

Last year: quarterfinals

Coach: Robert du Preez

Up side: continuity in squad, play well against NZ teams, big and strong forward pack

Down side: woefully inconsistent, lose games they should win, too many fair-weather fans

Prediction: semifinals

 

Rebels

Last year: ninth

Coach: Dave Wessels

Up side: big names throughout the side, could all gel together well

Down side: many past their best, not much depth, could all go horribly wrong

Prediction: 12th

 

Brumbies

Last year: 10th

Coach: Dan McKellar

Up side: some quality forwards, Christian Lealiifano back as skipper, David Pocock itching for a big year

Down side: safety-first tactics do not transpire into victories, lacking a game breaker in the outside backs

Prediction: eighth

 

Stormers

Last year: 11th

Coach: Robbie Fleck

Up side: Damian de Allende, Damian Willemse, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Steven Kitshoff - top players, get long Australasian trip over early.

Down side: appear to have lost the art of winning close games, injury-prone players

Prediction: sixth

 

Bulls

Last year: 12th

Coach: Pote Homan (new)

Up side: in Handre Pollard, Duane Vermeulen and Jesse Kriel the Bulls have some quality cattle, sure to have a good set piece

Down side: Loftus Versfeld no longer a fortress, growing pains as attempt to change style.

Prediction: 15th

 

Reds

Last year: 13th

Coach: Brad Thorn

Up side: training hard, new optimism about, lot of players a year older

Down side: lost experienced hands, optimism may be replaced by reality, tough start

Prediction: 14th

 

Sunwolves

Last year: 15th

Coach: Tony Brown (new)

Up side: good core of seasoned NZ players, plenty of resources, coach an innovator

Down side: lack the toughness for the physical intensity of the competition, brutal travel ask, many players may have eye on World Cup

Prediction: 13th.

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