2019 Super Rugby Season Preview

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Another year, another season where the Crusaders are the defending Super Rugby champions.

They start as favourites to win the title again and deservedly so with a seemingly endless production line of talent coming through.

Chances are by late April we will be talking about some Crusaders player that will come out of nowhere and be primed for an impact at the World Cup in Japan at the end of the year.

Our Super Rugby Winner market has a distinct Kiwi feel to it with the top four favourites all hailing from the land of the long white cloud.

The question among most Aussie fans is will any of the sides be able to make some noise come finals time?

The Waratahs and Brumbies are the two best sides in the title market sitting at $15 and $21 respectively.

Read on for our previews for every Super Rugby franchise including our finals predictions.

AUSTRALIAN CONFERENCE

BRUMBIES

Last Season

The Brumbies finished in third place in the Australian Conference with 34 points and a 7-9 record, missing the finals in tenth place overall.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Brumbies are at $21 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

Brumbies Conference Odds

The Brumbies sit at $3 to Win the Australian Conference

Season Preview

After falling one win short of a sixth successive finals appearance in 2018, the Brumbies feel as though they have the squad to fix what ails them. It will all come down to health for the Brumbies with so many potential Wallabies in the mix, the Brumbies have the top line talent to trouble plenty, especially in the forward pack. The loose forward duo of David Pocock and Pete Samu could be critical for the Brumbies as their backs, while certainly capable, probably won’t win a lot of style points this season. If they can replicate their defensive performance from last season and just progress a little bit in attack they are a good chance at not only a finals berth but the conference.

Prediction

Brumbies to finish second in the Australian Conference and lose a semi-final.

REBELS

Last Season

The Rebels finished in second place in the Australian Conference with 36 points and a 7-9 record, missing the finals in ninth place overall.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Rebels are at $51 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

Australian Conference Odds

Melbourne sits at $3.25 to Win the Australian Conference

Season Preview

The Rebels efforts to capture the magic of the 2011 Queensland Reds took a major step forward with the signing of Quade Cooper after the playmaker spent a season exiled to Brisbane Club Rugby. His combination with Will Genia makes this team one of the biggest boom or bust propositions of the entire competitions. If things go well, then the Rebels could be hosting a home final in the middle of the year but, this is Australian rugby and let’s be fair, “things going well” is not a phrase associated with their Super Rugby fortunes.

With an improving conference and injuries already impacting some big name players there is a chance the Rebels could take a step back this season, especially if teams start to treat them with a bit more respect. Perhaps the best thing going for the Rebels, looking at their squad is the fact that there is half a dozen players capable of breaking a game open at any given point. While the Rebels might be a more fundamentally sound side it’s hard to see every recruitment move paying off they way they would hope and another season just short of the finals is the likely outcome.

Prediction

The Rebels to finish third in the Australian Conference and miss the finals

REDS

Last Season

The Reds finished in fourth place in the Australian Conference with 28 points and a 6-10 record, missing the finals in 13th place overall.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Reds are at $101 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

Australian Conference Odds

Queensland sits at $12 to Win the Australian Conference

Season Preview

It’s been a long time since the Reds won the 2011 Super Rugby title with rebuild after rebuild never quite taking off. In each of the last five seasons the Reds have finished in 13th position or lower but there is optimism surrounding Brad Thorn’s gameplan and with the acquisition of attack coach Jim McKay, it might help add some life to one of the lowest scoring teams in 2018.

The addition of outside backs Sefa Naivalu from the Rebels and Bryce Hegarty from the Waratahs should help add some veteran leadership to a backline guided by a young halves pairing in Tate McDermott and Hamish Stewart. While a finals berth might be beyond the Reds this season, they should be able to be a bit more competitive and get closer to an even win/loss record. If you follow the Reds closely you should be able to find some good value bets on the team as the season progresses as they will likely cause an upset or two, especially over their local rivals.

Prediction

Reds to finish in fourth place in the Australian Conference and miss the finals.

SUNWOLVES

Last Season

The Sunwolves won the wooden spoon with 14 points and a 3-13 record, finishing last in the Australian Conference.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Sunwolves are at $501 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Compeition

Australian Conference Odds

The Sunwolves sit at $29 to Win the Australian Conference

Season Preview

With two wooden spoons from their three Super Rugby seasons, the Sunwolves are likely to be in for another season at the bottom of the pile. Defensively there is a lot to be concerned about with the Sunwolves giving up almost 45 points per game in their losses last year and allowing over 50 points four times. Generally speaking, Sunwolves games were very open contests with both sides scoring at least 25 points on eight occasions. Taking the Sunwolves opponent at the line looks like the play for this season coming if the trends from 2018 continue.

Prediction

Sunwolves to finish last overall and take the wooden spoon.

WARATAHS

Last Season

The Waratahs won the Australian Conference with 44 points and a 9-6-1 record, entering the finals as the third seed. The Waratahs beat the Highlanders 30-23 in the quarter final before losing the semi final away to the Lions 44-26.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Waratahs are at $15 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

Australian Conference Odds

New South Wales sits at $2.75 to Win the Australian Conference

Season Preview

Lead by current Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper, the Waratahs rebounded from a poor 2017 with a semi-final appearance in 2018 and a return to that stage is probably the benchmark for them this season. With the bulk of that squad returning to the Tahs for 2019, they will set the benchmark for the Australian sides in 2019. Adding team legend Adam Ashley-Cooper and former Reds utility Karmichael Hunt will provide some extra spark into the backline, the latter receiving a lifeline after off field issues cost him his 2018 season with the Reds.

Prediction

Waratahs to win the Australian Conference and lose the quarter final

NEW ZEALAND CONFERENCE

BLUES

Last Season

The Blues finished 2018 last in the New Zealand conference and in 14th place overall with four wins and 12 losses plus the second worst points differential in the competition.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Blues are at $41 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Compeition

New Zealand Conference Odds

The Blues sit at $29 to Win the New Zealand Conference

Season Preview

The Blues will be hoping a coaching change can spark a more successful campaign in 2019. Tana Umaga has been demoted to assistant coacg and the Auckland based side has brought in former All Black Leon MacDonald to lead the way. In all fairness to the Blues, they would probably have a much better record if they were not stuck playing fellow Kiwi sides for half the season. Last year the Blues won four games and all four of those victories came in their non-Conference schedule. Realistically, the Blues will probably be competitive from time to time and are worth backing in the odd match outside of New Zealand but, unfortunately though, they still look to be a step behind their compatriots and that will automatically rule them out of a finals spot.

Prediction

Blues to miss the Finals

CHIEFS

Last Season

The Chiefs finished last season in fifth position with 49 points with an 11-5 record and lost the quarter final to the Hurricanes 32-31.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Chiefs are at $12 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

New Zealand Conference Odds

The Chiefs sit at $8 to Win the New Zealand Conference

Season Preview

The two time Super Rugby champions go into 2019 looking for an eighth straight finals appearance and in a very competitive New Zealand Conference, offer pretty good value to at least claim regular season honours. Health is key for the Chiefs this season with plenty of talent across the board but a few positions looking just a bit thin with preseason being used to find some players who can fill in in a pinch. With several of these top line players competing for World Cup spots they will be looking for a big season to get the year off on the best possible note. In terms of a value play, there are few better ones on offer than the Chiefs to take out top spot in the NZ Conference, although they probably will fall short come finals when everyone’s fit and firing.

Prediction

The Chiefs to Win the New Zealand Conference (Regular Season) and lose in the Semi-Finals

CRUSADERS

Last Season

The Crusaders were the best team in the competition in 2018 from start to finish. At the end of the regular season they had a 14-2 record and finished 17 points clear of the second placed Lions, outscoring their opponents by an average of 15.4 points per game. The Crusaders beat the Sharks, Hurricanes and Lions on their way to the franchise’s ninth Super Rugby title.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Crusaders are at $3.75 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

New Zealand Conference Odds

The Crusaders sit at $1.90 to Win the New Zealand Conference

Season Preview

The Crusaders will enter 2019 with one eye on a Super Rugby three-peat, their first since 1998-2000 and one eye on getting ready for September’s World Cup. With that in mind there is plenty of value on offer early in the season, with a handful of frontline players unavailable in the early stages of the season. All Blacks Captain Kieran Read, hooker Codie Taylor and lock Sam Whitelock will miss six games this season, including the first month with one eye on keeping them fresh for the World Cup.

With coach Scott Robertson reportedly under instruction to limit the minutes of other All Blacks players in the first few matches to avoid burn out, it’s hard to see the Crusaders getting off to a flying start and that might cost them the minor premiership. Of course come mid-April the Crusaders will be back together and once again look like a side that could probably make the World Cup semi finals on their own as they win their third straight final, even if it has to be on the road.

Prediction

Crusaders to finish in fourth place (regular season) and win the Super Rugby title.

HIGHLANDERS

Last Season

The Highlanders finished in fourth place in the New Zealand Conference last year with 44 point and a 10-6 record making the finals as the sixth seed. They lost their quarter final to the Waratahs in Sydney 30-23.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Highlanders are at $9 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

New Zealand Conference Odds

The Highlanders sit at $7.50 to Win the New Zealand Conference

Season Preview

The 2015 Champions will be looking for a sixth straight finals appearance this season however the key for their success will be playing much more stout defence after conceding 445 points in 2018, the team’s worst total since allowing 442 in 2014. It becomes even more important with the departure of flyhalf Lima Sopoaga to English club Wasps. A lot more will be put on the plate of the forward pack as well as Aaron and Ben Smith to carry the side back to the finals this season. There may be some growing pains as the side adjust to a style described by coach Aaron Mauger as “bigger and brainier” but let’s be honest, they are still going to be better than most.

Prediction

Highlanders to finish as a Wild Card team and lost a quarter final.

HURRICANES

Last Season

The Hurricanes finished second in the New Zealand Conference with 51 points with an 11-5 record and were the fourth seed in the finals. They beat the Chiefs 32-31 in the quarter final before losing to the Crusaders in the semi final 30-12.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Hurricanes are at $4.50 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

New Zealand Conference Odds

The Hurricanes sit at $3.25 to Win the New Zealand Conference

Season Preview

According to our market, the Hurricanes are the best placed Kiwi side to knock off the Crusaders and after two straight seasons as runners up, they will feel confident about their chances this season. That confidence may be misplaced however with Julian Savea and his 45 tries as well as flanker Brad Shields departing for an overseas adventure. Of course the remaining squad is still pretty good and the Hurricanes will have title aspirations but as a value play, there just isn’t a lot to like there, unless they somehow manage to finish on top of the Crusaders and get a home final against them.

Prediction

Hurricanes to finish as a Wild Card and lose the final.

SOUTH AFRICAN CONFERENCE

BULLS

Last Season

The Bulls finished last in the South African Conference with 29 points and a 6-10 record, ending up 12th overall.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Bulls are at $51 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

South African Conference Odds

The Bulls sit at $9 to Win the South African Conference

Season Preview

One of the more aesthetically pleasing teams to watch in 2018, the young and exciting Bulls scored 59 tries last season, a number they hope to replicate or better. Unfortunately they also gave up 66 tries thanks to ill discipline and poor defence, and the hope will be that new coach Pote Human can develop their attacking flair with a bit more solidarity. With a few acquisitions form the Sevens series to help bolster their attack, it will be worth backing the over in a few Bulls games but progressing to the finals might be a step too far.

Prediction

Bulls to miss the finals

JAGUARES

Last Season

2018 saw the Jaguares make the Super Rugby Finals Series for the first time finishing second in the South African Conference with 38 points and a 9-7 record. They lost their quarter final against the Lions 40-23.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Jaguares are at $13 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

South African Conference Odds

The Jaguares sit at $7.50 to Win the South African Conference

Season Preview

Like just about everyone else this season, the Jaguares would like to get their year off to a good start with the bulk of the Argentine squad making up this team. One huge loss from last year is flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, with the 30-year-old being one of the key figures in the inception of the Super Rugby Franchise. His 391 points and goalkicking ability will be tough to replace and that could very well be enough to keep the Jaguares out of the finals.

Prediction

Jaguares to miss the finals

LIONS

Last Season

For the third straight season the Lions were runners up after losing their second straight final to the Crusaders. They won the South African Conference in the regular season with 46 points and a 9-7 record entering the finals as the second seed. They defeated the Jaguares and then the Waratahs on the way to their defeat in the Final.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Lions are at $9 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

South African Conference Odds

The Lions sit at $1.60 to Win the South African Conference

Season Preview

The Lions run to the final last season came in spite of a poor record against New Zealand opponents and taking advantage of some struggling local competition. Last season showed that under coach Swys du Bruin things would continue to roll on and the Lions are favoured to take out the South African Conference yet again. It might not be as clear sailing as in previous years with a few losses but the confidence they would have as three-time conference champions should help get them over the line here. The problem for them could come in the finals when a top notch New Zealand side will come to town.

Prediction

Lions to Win the South African Conference and lose the Quarter Final.

SHARKS

Last Season

The Sharks finished the season in third place in the South African Conference with 36 points and a 7-8-1 record earning the final wildcard spot in the finals. They lost their quarter final to the Crusaders 40-10 in a one sided affair.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Sharks are at $34 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

South African Conference Odds

The Sharks sit at $7 to Win the South African Conference

Season Preview

The Sharks did just enough to make the finals last season but will want to improve on a losing record from 2018 brought about thanks to some frustrating inconsistency. If coach Robert du Preez can iron out some of the issues that plagued them last season then they are primed to make a good run for the finals and will be a much more imposing opponent. With plenty of winnable games early on, don’t be at all surprised to see the Sharks leading the way in the first month but even so you can’t put too much faith in them to take out the conference. What is a very appealing bet is for the Sharks to play finals rugby this season at $3.50 (at the time of writing) and might be worth an investment.

Prediction

Sharks to finish second in the South African Conference and lose a quarter final.

STORMERS

Last Season

The Stormers finished fourth in the South African Conference with 29 points and a 6-10 record and in 11th place overall, missing out on the finals.

Super Rugby Winner Odds

The Stormers are at $34 to Win the 2019 Super Rugby Competition

South African Conference Odds

The Stormers sit at $9 to Win the South African Conference

Season Preview

The Stormers forward pack has undergone a big overhaul plenty of local talent being promoted into the 2019 squad perhaps with one eye on the long term future of the side and a possible post World Cup exodus. Aside from the local talent, the forward pack will be boosted by the return of Eben Etzebeth who missed the whole 2018 season with injury. What does need to improve though is the Stormers’ attack, only the Reds and Blues scored fewer points than the Stormers 390 last season and that number will need to move closer to 450 if not 500 this season. Realistically though, this will be a very rough year for the Western Province side and anything above about 12th place should be seen as a success.

Prediction

Stormers to miss the finals

FNAL PREDICTIONS

Conference Champions

  • Chiefs
  • Lions
  • Waratahs

Wildcards

  • Crusaders
  • Highlanders
  • Brumbies
  • Hurricanes
  • Sharks

Champions: Crusaders to beat the Hurricanes in the Final