2016 is officially here. We took a look at how each Super Rugby franchise is shaping up and when you can see them in action.
The Reds have ushered in a new era this pre-season, kicking things off in Novermber. The side will welcome a host of new faces into the club, while adjusting to the absence of stalwarts James Horwill, Quade Cooper and Will Genia. A knee injury to Kane Douglas has soured their pre-season preparations but the recovery of prop and captain James Slipper (shoulder) is ahead of schedule. They are also likely to welcome back Ben Daley in round one, after a shoulder reconstruction ended his 2015.
IN: 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)
OUT: 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).
Richard Graham - head coach
NIck Stiles - forwards coach
Matt O’ Connor - attack coach
February 6 vs Crusaders, Ballymore
February 12 vs Brumbies, Ballymore
First Super Rugby match:
February 27 vs Waratahs, Allianz Stadium
The Waratahs will field a very different line up on and off-field in 2016, with the departure of veterans Sekope Kepu and Adam Ashley-Cooper to France. The outside centre spot will be one that is hotly contested during the pre-season, while NRL winger Reece Robinson’s development will be closely watched. Former All Black Zac Guildford looms as a dangerous weapon for his new side. Their backline structure has already been debated and the intrigue will only grow when their Wallabies return this month.
IN: Angus Ta’avao (Blues), Brad Wilkin (Men’s Sevens), Jim Stewart (Sydney Stars), Zac Guildford (Hawke’s Bay), Harry Jones (Sydney Stars), Reece Robinson (Parramatta Eels).
OUTS: Adam Ashley-Cooper (Bordeaux), Sekope Kepu (Bordeaux), Wycliff Palu (Toyota Verblitz), 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).
Daryl Gibson - head coach
Nathan Grey - defence coach
Chris Malone - attack coach
February 12 vs Brumbies at Wagga
First Super Rugby match
February 27 vs Reds, Allianz Stadium
The Rebels had a big boost with the signing of their first home-grown players this off-season, in Sione Tuipulotu and Rob Leota, additions that will hopefully be the first of many local signings. They’ve brought experience into the side with James Hanson and Adam Thomson coming from the Reds. Their Wallabies contingent returned to training early, starting on the track in mid-December.
IN: 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).
OUT: 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).
Tony McGahan - head coach
Craig McGrath - assistant coach
Leo Crowley - assistant coach
Zane Hiltron - assistant coach
Pre-season trials: Not confirmed
First Super Rugby game:
February 27 vs Force, nib Stadium
A relatively quiet off-season in terms of player movement for the Brumbies but they’ve added some handy players. The form of Argentinian Tomas Cubelli could be critical for the side as they adjust to the loss of Nic White. After close finals finishes the past two years , the Brumbies are focused on continuing to build on their performances. A handful of their Wallabies contingent is set to depart at the end of 2016, so they will be hungry for team success. That group returns in January.
IN: Tomas Cubelli (Belgrano), Albert Anae (Benetton Treviso), Nick Jooste (Perth Spirit), Andrew Smith (Montpellier), Aidan Toua (Agen)
OUT: Nic White (Montpellier), Jesse Mogg (Montpellier), JP Smith (Stormers), Siliva Siliva (Rebels), Fotu Auelua (released), Sean Doyle (Munster)
Stephen Larkham - head coach
Dan McKellar - forwards coach
Dan Palmer - scrum coach
Peter Ryan - defence coach
February 6 vs Waratahs, Wagga
February 12 vs Reds, Ballymore
First Super Rugby match
February 26 vs Hurricanes, GIO Stadium
Pace has been the focus of the Force heading into the 2016 season, something of which Michael Foley’s new recruits have made no secret. Kyle Godwin and Nathan Charles are hoping to return to the form that saw them in the Wallabies mix, after a quiet 2015. Back rower Ben McCalman is currently plying his trade in Japan, with the Panasonic Wild Knights. McCalman will bring back World Cup experience when he returns in late January.
IN: Peter Grant (La Rochelle), Ben Tapuai (Reds), Jono Lance (Waratahs), Richie Arnold (Queensland Country) Semisi Masirewa (Manawatu), Tom Sexton (Rebels)
OUT: 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)
MIchael Foley - head coach
David Wessels - senior assistant
Kevin Foote - backs coach
Pre-season trials: unconfirmed
First Super Rugby match:
February 27 vs Rebels, nib Stadium