HOW THE AUSTRALIAN TEAMS STACK UP IN 2016 SUPER RUGBY
Super Rugby titles: 2001, 2004,
Finishes over the past three seasons: 2015 – 4th, 2014 – 4th, 2013 – 2nd
Coach: Stephen Larkham
Captains: Stephen Moore and Christian Lealiifano
Coach Larkham has made it clear it’s now or never for his aging squad with a number leaving a season’s end. Argentine halfback Tomas Cubelli will be key to their chances.
Gains: Tomas Cubelli (Belgrano), Albert Anae (Benetton Treviso), Nick Jooste (Perth Spirit), Andrew Smith (Montpellier), Aidan Toua (Agen)
Losses: Nic White (Montpellier), Jesse Mogg (Montpellier), JP Smith (Stormers), Siliva Siliva (Rebels), Fotu Auelua (released), Sean Doyle (Munster).
Super Rugby titles: 2014
Finishes over the past three seasons: 2015 – 3rd, 2014 – 1st, 2013 – 9th
Coach: Daryl Gibson
Captain: Michael Hooper
After bowing out in the semi-finals last season, it’s hard to see where that final improvement will come from under new coach Daryl Gibson. Veteran Wallabies back Adam Ashley-Cooper and firebrand Jacques Potgeiter will be hard to replace.
Gains: Angus Taavao (Blues), Brad Wilkin (Australia Sevens), Jim Stewart (Sydney Stars), Zac Guildford (Hawkes Bay), Harry Jones (Sydney Stars), Reece Robinson (Parramatta Eels).
Losses: Adam Ashley-Cooper (Bordeaux), Sekope Kepu (Bordeaux), Jacques Potgieter (Sharks), Brendan McKibbin (London Irish), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Glasgow), Pat McCutcheon (Australia Sevens), Peter Betham (Leicester Tigers), Jono Lance (Force), Ben Volavola (Crusaders), Mitchell Chapman (retired), Tala Grey (Toulouse), Michael Alaalatoa (Crusaders) Stephen Hoiles (retired)
Super Rugby titles: 1992, 1994, 1995, 2011
Finishes over the past three seasons: 2015 – 13th, 2014 – 13th, 2013 – 5th
Coach: Richard Graham
Captain: James Slipper
Plenty of pressure on coach Richard Graham after a poor 2015. The Reds must adjust to a new era without stalwarts Will Genia, Quade Cooper and James Horwill. Their forward pack should still be quality but their backs are a raw and little known quantity.
Gains: Kane Douglas (Leinster), Cadeyrn Neville (Rebels), Ayumu Goromaru (Yamaha Jubilo), James Tuttle (Bond University), Lukhan Tui (Randwick), Alex Mafi (Bond University), Izack Rodda (Easts Tigers), Junior Laloifi (Sunnybank), Eto Nabuli (St George Illawarra), Brad Matwijow (ITM Cup)
Losses: Quade Cooper (Toulon), Will Genia (Stade Francais), James Horwill (Harlequins), James O’Connor (Toulon), James Hanson (Rebels), Marco Kotze (Agen), David McDuling (Sharks), Ed O’Donoghue (Japan), Tom Murday (Agen), Ed Quirk (released), Beau Robinson (released), Adam Thomson (Rebels), Ben Tapuai (Force), Lachlan Turner (Toulon), Sam Johnson (Glasgow).
Super Rugby titles: 0
Finishes over the past three seasons: 2015 – 10th, 2014 – 15th, 2013 – 12th
Coach: Tony McGahan
Captain: Nic Stirzaker
The Rebels showed what they are capable of last season but lacked consistency. They don’t have the star power of other teams but with a promising halves pair Nic Stirzaker and Jack Debreczeni shouldn’t be far off the leaders.
Gains: Adam Thomson (Reds), James Hanson (Reds), Culum Retallick (Blues), Sione Tuipulotu (Melbourne Rising), Ryan Cocker (Taranaki), Jamie Hagan (London Irish), Siliva Siliva (Brumbies), Rob Leota (Northern), Reece Hodge (Manly).
Losses: Scott Higginbotham (NEC Green Rockets), Luke Burgess (Zebre), Radike Samo (released), Cadeyrn Neville (Reds), Paul Alo-Emile (Stade Francais), Keita Inagaki (Panasonic Wild Knights), Tom Sexton (Force), Ben Whittaker (released), Tom Kingston (released), Bryce Hegarty (Toyota Industries Shuttles), Telusa Veainu (Leicester Tigers).
Super Rugby titles: 0
Finishes over the past three seasons: 2015 – 15th, 2014 – 8th, 2013 – 13th
Coach: Michael Foley
Captains: Matt Hodgson
The only way is up for the Force. Unfortunately it’s more likely to be a slow climb than a rapid rise, with their new playmaker, South African veteran Peter Grant needing to fire.
Gains: Peter Grant (La Rochelle), Ben Tapuai (Reds), Jono Lance (Waratahs), Richie Arnold (Queensland Country) Semisi Masirewa (Manawatu), Tom Sexton (Rebels)
Losses: Wilhelm Steenkamp (Brive), Sam Wykes (Coca-Cola West Red Sparks), Sias Ebersohn (Cheetahs), Zack Holmes (La Rochelle), Nick Cummins (Coca-Cola West Red Sparks), Mitchell Scott (Tasman), Akihito Yamada (Panasonic Wild Knights)
2016 SUPER RUGBY FORMAT
New Zealand – Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes.
Australia – Brumbies, Western Force, Rebels, Waratahs, Reds
South African Group
South Africa – Bulls, Cheetahs, Kings, Lions, Sharks, Stormers
Argentina – Jaguares
Japan – Sunwolves
Australian Conference: Brumbies, Force, Rebels, Reds, Waratahs
New Zealand Conference: Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes
South Africa 1 Conference: Bulls, Cheetahs, Stormers, Sunwolves
South Africa 2 Conference: Jaguare, Kings, Lions, Sharks