Wed, Feb 22, 1:23pm by Staff Writer
Super Rugby 2017 kicks off this Thursday in Melbourne. With all 18 teams in action in on the opening weekend there is a wealth of rugby talent on show. The Hurricanes will be looking to repeat their heroics of last season but any one of the New Zealand franchises looks capable of winning the competition. Elsewhere around the competition they may well just be playing for local pride but as 2016 in the sporting world showed, miracles do happen.
An injury hit Melbourne Rebels will host the Blues in the opening match of the season. Pre-season has not been kind to the Rebels as they have lost several key players to injury including explosive wingers Marika Koroibete and Sefa Naivalu. As well as a loss of stability in the pack with James Hanson, Sean McMahon, Toby Smith out. Meaning the home side are currently priced at $2.40 with William Hill although the Rebels have won their last four season openers.
The Blues meanwhile make the short journey across the Tasman looking to come out from the shadow of the other Kiwi sides. For too long now, they have been unable to compete with the best in New Zealand and will be looking to make a statement in Melbourne. Despite missing star signing Sonny Bill Williams, they have plenty of attacking potential in their side who are priced at $1.57.
WATCH: Our Preview of the 2017 Super Rugby Season
Bet of the Match- Blues to Win by 1-12 points at $2.75
The Hurricanes will open their title defence in Tokyo as they become the first New Zealand franchise to play the Japanese Sunwolves. While the Hurricanes were flying high in 2016 it was a tough, long inaugural season for the Sunwolves as they finished last on the ladder. They will be out to prove a few points this year but an opening round fixture against the Champions is not what they would have wanted. They are severe underdogs with William Hill priced at $15.00.
With several key players including Dane Coles and Beauden Barrett enjoying the best performances of their careers at present. The Hurricanes appear to be an ever-present danger. Despite the return of Nehe Milner-Skudder being delayed for Round One they are red hot favourites for this fixture at $1.01. This could well be more about by how many points rather than who wins.
Bet of the Match – Hurricanes to Win by 13+ points at $1.18
In the only all Australian clash of the weekend the Waratahs host the Western Force. With talk of a format change in the air, there is extra pressure on the Force to prove their worth in this competition after several disappointing seasons. They are up against it in Sydney priced at $5.50 compared to the Waratahs at $1.15. The ‘Tahs will not be taking the Force lightly as they have named a strong team to face them including the likes of Israel Folau and new potential star Irae Simone in the centres.
Bet of the Match- Waratahs to Win by 1-12 points at $2.90
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