Thu, Feb 16, 3:28pm by Staff Writer
The 2017 Super Rugby season launches on February 24 on a Thursday night in Melbourne as the Rebels host the Blues. Once again the Conference system will be in effect this year despite its many apparent failings last year. Here’s our season and conference by conference preview.
Super Rugby Winner 2017
The New Zealand sides dominate the prices to win the tournament outright with four out of the top five odds. The Hurricanes are favourites at $5.00 followed by the Chiefs ($6.50), Highlanders ($6.50) and Crusaders ($7.00). The Lions ($8.00) round out the top five while the best priced Australian side is the Waratahs at $15.00.
After a poor showing from all the Australian sides in 2016, all five franchises have major points to prove. The Waratahs top the prices to win the Conference at $2.00 followed by the Brumbies at $4.00. While the Reds have received a huge boost for their hopes to return to the summit with the return of Quade Cooper and Stephen Moore seeing them priced at just $4.50. They will look to challenge the dominance of the Brumbies and ‘Tahs this year. Once again, the Rebels ($8.00) and Force ($81.00) may well be forced to fighting it out for the ‘Wooden Spoon’ at the bottom of the Conference.
Bet of the Conference- Reds at $4.50 with William Hill
New Zealand Conference
The Kiwi sides highlighted the flawed nature of the Conference system last season as all five of them were worthy of places in the Finals. Guaranteed spots for winners of other Conferences, however, kept them down to just the four. Reigning Champions the Hurricanes ($3.50) have the potential to go back-to-back winners but it will be a huge task. The Chiefs ($3.75), Highlanders ($4.00) and Crusaders ($4.50) all impressed at the preseason Tens tournament and will all be the hunt for glory. The Blues ($11.00) hopes hang upon whether coach Tana Umaga can get the best out of his players.
Bet of the Conference- Chiefs at $3.75 with William Hill
Africa 1 Conference
The Bulls and Stormers are likely to dominate Africa 1 just as they did last year. It is highly unlikely the Sunwolves ($151.00) and Cheetahs ($13.00) will pose a serious threat to either of those sides. With the Stormers favourites at $1.72 compared to the Bulls at $2.25, it is hard to see past the men from Cape Town. They have recruited smartly in the off season and it will be interesting to see how Sevens superstar Seabelo Senatla converts to the XV-man game.
Bet of the Conference – Stormers at $1.72 with William Hill
Africa 2 Conference
As with Africa 1, this will be a two horse race no doubt. With the Lions favourites at $1.80 and the Sharks at $2.75. It would be a huge undertaking for either the Jaguares ($5.50) or the Kings ($251.00) to challenge either of them. The Lions made the Final last year and will be hoping to go one better in 2017.
Bet of the Conference- Lions at $1.80 with William Hill
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