Super Rugby 2018 – Aussie Teams begin their seasons
by Ken Edwards, 20 February 2018.
With the 5 Australian Super Rugby Franchises now cut to 4, the Aussie teams should be bulging with more talent & stronger in 2018.
Clearly, Australia’s best team over the past two seasons, the Brumbies have the return of David Pocock after a year’s sabbatical significantly boosting the team’s chances of topping the Australian conference, as well as a fit and firing Christian Lealiifano.
The Brumbies know how to win and have knack of knocking off other Australian teams when they are less fancied. They are not afraid to travel and on-the-road they are not intimidated by big parochial crowds, especially in New Zealand.
Compared to other Australian sides, the Reds haven’t recruited fantastically well in the off-season. They will need to rely on the core group of players returning from 2017 if they are to better their return of four wins from 15 games last year. We believe the Reds will struggle in 2018.
NSW are the bookies’ favourite to win the Australian Conference but don’t be deceived by betting markets. Whilst its true the Waratahs have a roster flooded with Wallabies representatives, this is a side that perennially underachieves.
Discarded Reds forward Rob Simmons, the return of Beale to his home at NSW and Curtis Rona (Western Force), Alex Newsome (Force) and Lalakai Foketi (Bay of Plenty) are all big additions.
The Melbourne Rebels are many lounge chair experts tip to top the Australian Conference in 2018. They’ve recruited wisely and have that almost-impossible-to artificially-create mix of youth and experience.
Exciting young coach Dave Wessels has relocated with his best Force players across the Nullarbor to Melbourne, including Dane Haylett-Petty, Adam Coleman, and Bill Meakes, while Wallabies scrum half Will Genia and former England lock Geoff Parling are other strong additions to the Rebels complementing Reece Hodge and Amanaki Mafi.