Super Rugby AU kicks off on Friday for its 2021 season, as the Southern Hemisphere nations continue to emerge into the ‘new normal’ created by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Australia has rustled up a five-team, ten-round tournament, with former Sanzaar bedfellows New Zealand and South Africa making their own rugby plans for this year and beyond.
So the Brumbies, Force, Rebels, Reds and Waratahs will battle it out for supremacy Down Under over the coming months.
Super Rugby AU 2021: Predictions for Friday 19 February
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team’s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins use the methodology developed by Rugby Vision.
Reds vs Waratahs
The Queensland Reds and New South Wales Waratahs kick off the new Super Rugby AU season when they meet at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Friday.
Hooker Alex Mafi notches his 50th cap for the home side, who are set to give debuts off the bench to three new faces in reserve hooker, Richie Asiata, lock Ryan Smith and outside back Ilaisa Droasese.
The campaign opener will also see Feao Fotuaika play at prop for the first time in a year since his injury lay-off began.
Captain Liam Wright misses out through injury, meaning Angus Scott-Young will come in at blindside flank.
The Waratahs have a youthful look to them, with up to seven new players set to make their debuts for Rob Penny’s side.
Izaia Perese will line up at centre against his former employers, while Jake Gordon takes the captaincy for the first time in the half-backs.
The sizeable shoes of Michael Hooper, meanwhile, will be filled by Carlo Tizzano.
Reds Starting XV: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor (captain), 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Seru Uru, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Feao Fotuaika, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Dane Zander.
Replacements: 16 Richie Asiata, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Ryan Smith, 20 Tuania Taii Tualima, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Ilaisa Droasese.
Waratahs Starting XV: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Joey Walton, 11 James Ramm, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Will Harris, 5 Jack Whetton, 4 Sam Caird, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 David Porecki, 17 Te Tera Faulkner, 18 Sio Tatola, 19 Jeremy Williams, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Jack Grant, 22 Tane Edmed, 23 Mark Nawaqanitawase.
Western Force vs Brumbies
The first round action of the 2021 Super Rugby AU competition is rounded up by the Western Force doing battle with the Brumbies on Friday at HBF Park in Perth.
Wallabies duo Tevita Kuridrani and Tom Robertson are at the disposal of the home side, who are out to make the most of their inclusion having previously been booted out of the full Super Rugby tournament.
Ireland international Rob Kearney adds further intrigue at full-back, while the international feel continues with Santiago Medrano and Tomas Lezana adding an Argentinian influence to the side, as well as the experienced Tomas Cubelli.
The Brumbies are packed with Australian international pedigree including an all-Wallaby front row of James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a and captain Alan Alaalatoa.
Nic White and Noah Lolesio pair up in the half-backs for coach Dan McKeller.
Western Force Starting XV: 15 Robert Kearney, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior (captain), 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Tim Anstee, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Richard Kahui.
Brumbies Starting XV: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa.