Sharks look a real threat to revamped Reds
Highlanders can extend winning streak over Chiefs
Rebels v Blues
Sky Sports 3, 8.45am Thursday
There have been 57 or more points scored in all five previous meetings between these teams and that high-scoring trend should continue at AAMI Park.
Both sides have been reshuffled in the off-season so the accent should be on attack rather than defensive solidity, especially from the Blues. They are without their All Blacks and have a few short-term injuries to contend with.
2pts 9-10 bet365
Highlanders v Chiefs
Sky Sports 3, 6.35am Friday
The Highlanders can give up two points in making it seven wins on the spin against the Chiefs.
All Blacks dominate the home backline from scrum-half Aaron Smith to full-back Ben Smith through Lima Sopoaga, Malakai Fekitoa and Waiseke Naholo. Last season’s top tryscorer Matt Faddes is on the ’Landers bench, as is All Blacks backrower Elliot Dixon.
The Chiefs are not without their quality, especially out wide, but key gainline-busting backrowers All Black Sam Cane and Japan skipper Michael Leitch are out.
2pts 5-6 Betway
Reds v Sharks
Sky Sports 3, 9am Friday
Back the Sharks with a start of six points at Suncorp as they have won eight of the last ten meetings with the Reds including 21-14 on their visit to Brisbane last year.
The home side line-up includes returning heroes Quade Cooper and Stephen Moore plus arch-snaffler George Smith, but a narrow win would do them after last year’s terrible campaign.
1pt 10-11 BoyleSports