Phenomenal Israel Folau the man to star for Waratahs
Best bets as the Kiwis and Aussies start their season
Waratahs v Stormers
The Stormers go to Sydney with the advantage of a competitive game under their belts after they beat Los Jaguares 28-20 at home last weekend.
The Waratahs have four players making their Super Rugby debuts and also have playmaker Kurtley Beale back in their ranks after a year at Wasps in the Premiership.
The Stormers are a robust, physical side but if Beale slots back in and injects the kind of pace Tahs coach Daryl Gibson is looking for he has the perfect finisher in electric full-back Israel Folau, who led the way with nine tries last season.
I Folau to score a try
1pt 5-4 bet365
Highlanders v Blues
A big weekend for the Gatland family starts as Bryn, son of Wales coach Warren, makes his first Super Rugby start for the Blues.
There will be a lot of pressure on the 22-year-old fly-half to marshal an exciting backline containing plenty of firepower, spearheaded by All Blacks Sonny Bill Williams and Rieko Ioane.
The Highlanders are pretty sharp too and have another All Blacks winger in Waisake Naholo. Five of their seven home matches under the roof in Dunedin last season featured at least 57 points and this could be another blowout.
Over 52.5 points
1pt 10-11 bet365
Rebels v Reds
The Rebels won just one match in the 2017 campaign but new coach Dave Wessels has overseen some heavy recruitment and is able to name a line-up featuring nine Wallabies including scrum-half Will Genia and full-back Dane Haylett-Petty, brought in from the Force.
The Melbourne outfit are five-point favourites against a Reds side coached by Brad Thorn and captained by former Rebels skipper Scott Higginbotham.
The Rebels look the stronger team and although a lot will depend on how quickly the new players will gel, they are in good spirits and are worth backing to edge an opening victory.
Rebels to win by one to 12 points
1pt 2-1 Betway
Sunwolves v Brumbies
The Brumbies were the most successful Australian side last season but still picked up only six wins and will be desperate for a fast start to this campaign against the Sunwolves in Tokyo.
The Sunwolves had the leakiest defence in the 2017 campaign, shipping 671 points and 96 tries.
The Brumbies have international talent in their backline but a player to follow could be debutant Tom Cusack. The flanker is a former star of the Sevens circuit, has plenty of pace and has been hailed as the fittest player in the camp.
T Cusack to score a try
1pt 21-10 bet365
Crusaders v Chiefs
The Chiefs pay an early visit to Christchurch - the scene of last season's semi-final exit, where they succumbed 27-13 to champions the Crusaders.
The Waikato side lost only two regular-season matches in that campaign - to the Stormers in Cape Town and to the Crusaders in Fiji.
Damian McKenzie starts at fly-half for the first time having established himself in the New Zealand number 15 jersey over the last year, and with a powerful pack containing five All Blacks, they can stay competitive.
1pt 10-11 BoyleSports, Coral, Ladbrokes
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