Super Rugby Round 1

Super Rugby makes it’s long awaited return this weekend and the revamped structure looks set to give the competition new life. The Wolf analyses all of the action and gives us his predictions for the season ahead.

Super Rugby 2018 Season Preview

The Super Rugby Season is back for 2018 with a new and improved format. The Competition has been reduced from 18 to 15 teams with Australia’s Western Force and South Africa’s Cheetahs & Southern Kings all making way to ensure a stronger and more viable competition in 2018. A reduction in conferences from 4 to 3 has seen the Sunwolves join the Australian Conference and the Jaguares join the South African Conference.

New Zealand teams once again look to hold the key in the tournament with all 5 teams featuring prominently in Outright Betting. The Significant mover in the Outright has been the Auckland Blues ($19 into $14) coming off the back of a terrific performance claiming this year’s Brisbane 10’s title in great fashion. However, we anticipate the title will be a race in three with last year’s Champions the Crusaders vying for favouritism with the both the Hurricanes and Lions.

Futures Bets

Outright Winner
It’s hard to go past the New Zealand franchises in finding this year’s Super Rugby Winner. The Wolf has decided to go with the excitement machine which is the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have arguable the best roster in Super Rugby led by All Blacks 5/8 Beauden Barrett and Halfback TJ Perenara. Expect these two generals to steer the Canes around the paddock and inflict serious damage on opposing teams. With strike power out wide in the likes of Julian Savea, Ngani Laumape and Nehe Milner Scudder tries will be easy to come by in what is a potent attacking backline. Expect a big year from the Hurricanes and several LARGE score lines in their favour.
Hurricanes ($4.50)

Best Bet
The Wolf is keeping it short and sharp and says this is the one futures bet we must have! 2017 was a tough year for the Waratahs, winning only the 4 Games over the course of the season. We have them turning the tables in 2018 with the retainment of a young core group of players as well as the return of ‘X-Factor’ Kurtley Beale. Their recent performance in the Brisbane 10s with a little known crop of youngsters suggests a strong year ahead for the Waratahs.  If senior players Micheal Hooper, Israel Folau and Bernard Foley can be a stay injury free the Wolf expects the Waratahs to return to their best in 2018 and be a lock for the Australian Conference.
Australian Conference Winner – Waratahs ($2.85)

Round 1 Preview and Tips

Stormers v Jaguares – (Sun 12:05am)
The Stormers boast a terrific home record winning 6 of 7 last season at Newlands, with the one loss coming at the hands of last year’s finalists the Lions. The Jags had a disappointing 2017 finishing with a record of 7-8. The Stormers are likely to inject exciting young 5/8 Damian Willemse along with versatile Speedster Dillyn Leyds into the match day XV which should prove too much strike power for the Jags and see them stamp their authority in the second half. Unfortunately for the Jags, 2018 looks to again be a tough one and the Wolf expects the Stormers to take this one at home before commencing a tough Australasian tour in the coming weeks.
Best Bet: Stormers 1-12 Margin ($2.85)
Value Bet: HT/FT – Jaguares/Stormers ($6.50)

Lions vs Sharks – (Sun 2:15am)
A rematch of last season’s qualifying final which saw the Lions victorious in a willing contest by 2 points sets up an intriguing Week 1 fixture. The Lions have been South Africa’s shining light in recent years making the final in the past 2 seasons to go down narrowly on both occasions to the Hurricanes and Crusaders. The Lions record over the past 2 seasons has been an impressive 25-5 under ex-head Coach Rohan Ackerman, although the Wolf sees this opening game as a dangerous encounter for the Lions. There’s no secret the Sharks will play to their strengths in a powerful forward pack and territorial kicking 5/8. This should enable them to keep the score close in a tight and gritty affair. There’s question marks over the style in which the Lions will adopt under new Head coach Swys de Bruin and whether it will be the expansive running rugby were used to seeing from the Lions. The score will be tight and expect it to be a brutal encounter.
Best Bet: Sharks +8.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Sharks 1-12 Margin ($4.25)