Super Rugby – 2013 Season Preview

The following is a preview of the 2013 Super 15 Rugby season. This season will be interrupted by the British and Irish Lions Tour of Australia in June, so the 2013 season features three all-Australian rounds to accommodate the nine-game tour. The season kicks off on February 15 with the first of the all-Australian rounds.

Apart from adding two additional rounds to the 18-round schedule to fit in the Lions Tour, the 2013 season follows the same format as last year. All sides will play sixteen games.

Because no country can field more than five sides in the competition, South Africa have introduced a two-leg promotion/relegation play-off series at the conclusion of the regular season. This will feature the bottom placed side in the South African conference against the Lions, who were dropped from the league last season at the expense of the Southern Kings. The winner will qualify to play Super Rugby in 2014 at the expense of the loser.

It will be interesting to see if the Wallabies’ injury woes in 2012 will have benefited the 2013 Super Rugby squads after coach Robbie Deans was forced to cap so many new players. Australian Super Rugby sides faired relatively poorly last season, with some suggesting five sides is too many for Australia to support.

Futures Betting

If you are planning to back an Australian side in the futures market, be aware that Robbie Deans wishes to put the Wallabies squad into an extended three-week camp before the British and Irish Lions series. This would strip the Australian Super Rugby teams of their Test players for the penultimate round. Even if this doesn’t happen, the Lions Tour will be a major disruption for the Australian Super Rugby sides.

Below are team-by-team previews for 2013. These details will be updated as more information becomes available.

Australian Conference


  • Last year: 2nd in Australian conference, 7th overall
  • Pre-season: beat the Force 20-18, beat ACT XV 38-7
  • Squad: Fotu Auelua, Ben Alexander, Sam Carter, Tom Cox, Robbie Coleman, Ruiadhri Murphy, Peter Kimlin, Christian Lealiifano, Pat McCabe, Stephen Moore, Dan Palmer, Siliva Siliva, Ben Mowen, Jesse Mogg, Andrew Smith, Henry Speight, Matt Toomua, Ita Vaea, Ian Prior, Joe Tomane, Tevita Kuridrani, Leon Power, Scot Sio, Zack Holmes, Scott Fardy, Jordan Smiler, David Pocock, Ruan Smith, Stephan Van Der Walt, Mark Swanepoel, Clyde Rathbone, Joshua Mann-Rea, Colby Faingaa, Nic White
  • Notes: the Brumbies faded at the end of last season after losing Christian Lealiifano to injury. They will welcome his return to the squad. Getting former Springboks coach Jake White last year was a masterstroke. David Pocock was a good off-season acquisition, however they will miss Michael Hooper. One interesting addition is the return of South African-born Clyde Rathbone, who previously played for the Brumbies between 2003 and 2009. Rathbone hasn’t played rugby since his departure in 2009 due to suffering from depression.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 2nd – overall 5th
  • TVNZ: Predicted finish – conference 1st


  • Last year: 5th in Australian conference, 14th overall
  • Pre-season: lost to the Brumbies 18-20, beat Tonga Select XV 46-0
  • Squad: Salesi Ma’Afu, Nathan Charles, Pek Cowan, Sam Wykes, Hugh McMeniman, Matt Hodgson, Chris Alcock, Ben McCalman, Alby Mathewson, Sias Eberson, Nick Cummings, Winston Stanley, Will Tupou, Alfie Mafi, Patrick Dellit, Ben Whitaker, Kieran Longbottom, Toby Lynn, Lachlan McCaffrey, Brett Sheenan, Sam Norton-Knight, Jayden Hayward, Tetera Faulkner, Phoenix Battye, Angus Cottrell, Richard Brown, Chris Tuatara-Morrison, Kyle Godwin, Ed Stubbs, Junior Rasolea
  • Notes: They had a fair amount of player turnover in the off-season and will be hurting from the losses of Nathan Sharpe and David Pocock. It remains to be seen how well the 2013 squad can gel. They also have a new coach in Michael Foley, who has made the move west from the Waratahs. They did well to acquire scrum-half Alby Mathewson from the Blues during the off-season.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 5th – overall 14th
  • TVNZ: Predicted finish – conference 5th


  • Last year: 4th in Australian conference, 13th overall
  • Pre-season: lost 24-16 to the Waratahs, lost 47-45 to the Hurricanes
  • Squad: Laurie Weeks, Ged Robinson, Paul Alo-Emile, Hugh Pyle, Cadeyrn Neville, Scott Higginbotham, Jarrod Saffy, Gareth Delve, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, Cooper Vuna, Rory Sidey, Mitch Inman, Kimami Situati, James O’Connor, Shota Horie, Eddie Aholelei, Chris Thomson, Luke Jones, Richard Kingi, Bryce Hegarty, Angus Roberts, Nic Henderson, James King, Scott Fuglistaller, Tim Davidson, Nic Stirzaker, Lachlan Mitchell, Jason Woodward, Alex Rokobaro
  • Notes: Scott Higginbotham was a great acquisition, although they will miss Mark Gerrard. Winger Cooper Vuna is out for six weeks after injuring his shoulder in a trial match. On top of Higginbothom, one other shrewd acquisition was the young up-and-comer, Jason Woodward, from the New Zealand U20s.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 4th – overall 11th
  • TVNZ: Predicted finish – conference 4th


  • Last year: 1st in Australian conference, 6th overall but 3rd seed in playoffs where they lost to the Sharks in the qualifiers
  • Pre-season: beat the Blues 41-35, lost 20-8 to the Chiefs
  • Squad: Ben Daley, James Hanson, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, James Horwill, Benn Robinson, Liam Gill, Jake Schatz, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Digby Ioane, Mike Harris, Ben Tapuai, Dom Shipperly, Luke Morahan, Sia Fiangaa, Greg Holmes, Adam Wallace Harrison, Radike Samo, Ben Lucas, Anthony Fiangaa, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Albert Anae, Jono Owen, David McDuling, Eddie Quirk, Nick Frisby, Jono Lance, Rod Davies, Aidan Toua
  • Notes: the Reds have had very little turnover in the squad from last year, which should bode well for the start of the season. They do have one notable departure, however, in Scott Higginbotham. They endured a bad run of injuries last season and aren’t off to a great start this year. Will Genia will be out for the first 6-8 weeks while James Horwill picked up a pre-season knock during training. If the Reds can stay fit, especially going into the playoffs, they will be a genuine title contender.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 1st – overall 2nd
  • TVNZ: Predicted finish – conference 2nd


  • Last year: 3rd in Australian conference, 11th overall
  • Pre-season: beat Rebels 24-16, lost 40-36 to the Blues, lost 16-14 to the Crusaders
  • Squad: Benn Robinson, Tatafu Poluta-Nau, Sekope Kepu, Sitaleki Timani, Kane Douglas, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Wycliff Palu, Brendan McKibbin, Brendan Foley, Drew Mitchell, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Israel Folau, Berrick Barnes, Damien Fitzpatrick, Paddy Ryan, Greg Peterson, Lopeti Timani, Grayson Hart, Tom Kingston, Peter Betham, John Ulugia, Jeremy Tilse, Ollie Atkins, Pat McCutheon, Michael Hodge, Cam Crawford, Tom Carter, Lachie Turner
  • Notes: given they are currently on an eight-match losing streak, it is of no surprise that the Waratahs had a much needed clear out both on and off the pitch during the off-season. Michael Hooper is a great acquisition. It will be interesting to see how Israel Folau fares in his third code in as many years. It will also be interesting to see how much improvement new coach Michael Cheika can bring to their fortunes. His predecessor only lasted one year in charge. Playmaker Berrick Barnes injured his knee in pre-season training and looks likely to miss the opening rounds of the season. Bernard Foley (ankle) and Rob Horne (hamstring, 4-6 weeks) also have injuries.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 3rd – overall 9th
  • TVNZ: Predicted finish – conference 3rd

New Zealand Conference


  • Last year: 5th in New Zealand conference, 12th overall
  • Pre-season: lost 41-35 to the Reds, beat Waratahs 40-36, beat Highlanders 31-29
  • Squad: Kane Barrett, Anthony Boric, Luke Braid, Charlie Faumuina, Malakai Fekitoa, Jamison Gibson-Park, Frank Halai, Bryn Hall, Baden Kerr, Steven Luatua, Quentin MacDonald, Tom McCartney, Marty McKenzie, Keven Mealamu, George Moala, Liaki Moli, Waisake Naholo, Chris Noakes, Brendon O’Connor, James Parsons, Tim Perry, Charles Piutau, Ronald Raaymakers, Rene Ranger, Culum Retallick, Francis Saili, Peter Saili, Angus Ta’avao, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Piri Weepu, Ali Williams, Jackson Willison.
  • Notes: former All Blacks winger John Kirwin has replaced Pat Lam as coach. Sir Graham Henry has been named as a technical advisor. The Blues will be smarting from the departures of Ma’a Nonu and Tony Woodcock to the Highlanders, as well as Gareth Anscombe to the Chiefs. Jerome Kaino isn’t back after signing a two-year deal to play in Japan.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 5th – overall 12th
  • TVNZ: Predicted finish – conference 5th


  • Last year: 1st in New Zealand conference, 2nd overall. Won the title after beating the Crusaders in the semis and the Sharks in the final.
  • Pre-season: beat Highlanders 36-14, beat Reds 20-8, beat Hurricanes 25-21
  • Squad: Ben Afeaki, Bundee Aki, Gareth Anscombe, Sam Cane, Craig Clarke, Nick Crosswell, Aaron Cruden, Hikawera Elliot, Ross Filipo, Mike Fitzgerald, Romana Graham, Josh Hohneck, Andrew Horrell, Richard Kahui, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Tanerau Latimer, Fritz Lee, Brendon Leonard, Rhys Marshall, Lelia Masaga, Liam Messam, Tim Nanai-Williams, Charlie Ngatai, Patrick Osborne, Augustine Pulu, Brodie Retallick, Robbie Robinson, Mahonri Schwalger, Toby Smith, Solomona Sakalia, Ben Tameifuna, Asaeli Tikoirotuma.
  • Notes: halfback Brendon Leonard is out for 4-6 weeks after fracturing his cheekbone in a trial match. The Chiefs welcome back Richard Kahui who missed the second half of last season with injury. This will soften the blow from losing Sonny Bill Williams. They did well to pick up Gareth Anscombe from the Blues, but a notable loss for them is Sona Taumalolo. The prop scored nine tries last year – the most of any Chiefs player. Only Andre Taylor (Hurricanes) and Bjorn Basson (Bulls) scored more (10 each).
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 2nd – overall 4th
  • TVNZ: Predicted finish – conference 3rd


  • Last year: 2nd in New Zealand conference, 4th overall. Beat the Bulls in the qualifiers and lost to the Chiefs in the semis.
  • Pre-season: lost 27-26 to the Hurricanes, lost 38-21 to the Highlanders, beat Waratahs 16-14
  • Squad: Telusa Veainu, Dominic Bird, Tyler Bleyendaal, Dan Carter, Shane Christie, Wyatt Crockett, Ryan Crotty, Israel Dagg, Tom Donnelly, Andy Ellis, Corey Flynn, Owen Franks, Robbie Fruean, Ben Funnell, Zac Guildford, Willi Heinz, Nepo Laulala, Tom Marshall, Richie McCaw, Johnny McNicholl, Joe Moody, Kieran Read, Luke Romano, Jeremy Su’a, Jordan Taufua, Codie Taylor, Tom Taylor, Matt Todd, Jimmy Tupou, Adam Whitelock, George Whitelock, Luke Whitelock, Sam Whitelock.
  • Notes: the Crusaders will start the season without Richie McCaw, who is on a six-month sabbatical, however Kieran Read is highly experienced as their interim captain. They are looking a bit thin on the wing at the moment. Sean Maitland has moved to Scotland, Zac Guildford has withdrawn for personal reasons while potential replacement Kurt Baker tore a hamstring while playing in the Wellington Rugby Sevens. They lost prop Ben Franks to the Hurricanes during the off-season. Updates: coach Todd Blackadder has added Telusa Veainu to the squad. Zac Guildford is rumoured to return to the squad sooner than expected.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 1st – overall 3rd
  • TVNZ: Predicted finish – conference 1st


  • Last year: 4th in New Zealand conference, 9th overall
  • Pre-season: lost 36-14 to the Chiefs, beat Crusaders 38-21, lost 31-29 to the Blues
  • Squad: Josh Bekhuis, Tim Boys, Liam Coltman, Elliot Dixon, Ma’afu Fia, John Hardie, Jarrad Hoeata, Andrew Hore, Chris King, Jamie Mackintosh, Nasi Manu, Brayden Mitchell, Jake Paringatai, Brad Thorn, Joe Wheeler, Tony Woodcock, Phil Burleigh, Tamati Ellison, Jason Emery, Hosea Gear, Ma’a Nonu, Declan O’Donnell, Kade Poki, Hayden Parker, Buxton Popoalii, Colin Slade Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Lima Sopoaga, Fumiaki Tanaka, Shaun Treeby.
  • Notes: the Highlanders have a lengthy injury list with up to four loose forwards unavailable but John Hardie and Nasi Manu are expected to be back this month. They made some high-profile acquisitions over the off season, adding Ma’a Nonu, Brad Thorn and Tony Woodcock to the squad. On paper this is their best opportunity to make the finals in years. In previous seasons they started well but faded in the second half of the season. The Highlanders will be hoping their increase in squad depth will help to avoid a repeat of that trend. Colin Slade will need to stay fit to help their cause.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 4th – overall 11th
  • TVNZ: Predicted finish – conference 2nd


  • Last year: 3rd in New Zealand conference, 8th overall
  • Pre-season: beat Crusaders 27-26, beat Rebels 47-45, lost 25-21 to the Chiefs
  • Squad: James Broadhurst, Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles, Tim Bateman, Jason Eaton, Samisoni Fisilau, Ben Franks, Cory Jane, Reggie Goodes, Rey Lee-Lo, Jack Lam, Alapati Leuia, Faifili Levave, James Marshall, Karl Lowe, TJ Perenara, Motu Matu’u, Tusi Pisi, Ben May, Matt Proctor, Mark Reddish, Julian Savea, Ardie Savea, Conrad Smith, Brad Shields, Chris Smylie, Eric Sione, Andre Taylor, Blade Thomson, Jeremy Thrush, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Victor Vito.
  • Notes: They did well to recruit prop Ben Franks from the Crusaders during the off-season. All Blacks winger Cory Jane is expected to miss the entire season due to incurring a severe knee injury in training. His absence will be a huge loss for the Hurricanes. They’re great fun to watch, but need to improve in defence.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 3rd – overall 9th
  • TVNZ: Predicted finish – conference 4th

South African Conference


  • Last year: 2nd in South African conference, 5th overall. Lost to the Crusaders in the qualifiers.
  • Pre-season: beat the Lions 38-32, beat the Cheetahs 32-10
  • Squad: Dean Greyling, Frik Kirsten, Werner Kruger, Dawie Steyn, Marcel van der Merwe, Bongi Mbonambi, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Callie Visagie, Willie Wepener, Juandré Kruger, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Flip van der Merwe, Paul Willemse, Arno Botha, Grant Hattingh, Dewald Potgieter, Jacques Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Pierre Spies, Francois Hougaard, Ruan Snyman, Jano Vermaak, Louis Fouché, Morné Steyn, JJ Engelbrecht, Lionel Mapoe (loan), Wynand Olivier, Francois Venter, Bjorn Basson, Akona Ndungane, Zane Kirchner, Jürgen Visser.
  • Notes: had little turnover in players from last year, although did acquire Grant Hattingh and Lionel Mapoe from the Lions
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 2nd – overall 2nd


  • Last year: 4th in the South African conference, 10th overall.
  • Pre-season: beat the Stormers 27-26, lost to the Bulls 32-10
  • Squad: Lourens Adriaanse, Rossouw de Klerk, Trevor Nyakane, Caylib Oosthuizen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Ryno Barnes, Hercu Liebenberg, Adriaan Strauss, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Andries Ferreira, Francois Uys, Waltie Vermeulen, Heinrich Brüssow, Justin Downey, Lappies Labuschagné, Boom Prinsloo, Marnus Schoeman, Philip van der Walt, Davon Raubenheimer, Jacques Coetzee, Tewis de Bruyn, Sarel Pretorius, Piet van Zyl, Johan Goosen, Riaan Smit, Elgar Watts, Robert Ebersohn, Joubert Engelbrecht, Barry Geel, JP Nel, Johann Sadie, Philip Snyman, Rayno Benjamin, Cornal Hendricks, Cameron Jacobs, Rocco Jansen, Willie le Roux, Dusty Noble, Nico Scheepers, Hennie Daniller.
  • Notes: they will desperately need Johan Goosen to stay fit if they are to challenge for a playoff spot. They picked up Sarel Pretorius from the Waratahs in the off-season, however they lost Andries Strauss, Sias Ebersohn and Juan Smith. The squad lacks the depth of Springboks that the likes of the Stormers and Bulls boast. Their primary aim should be to finish 4th or better in the South African conference, given the new relegation system.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 4th – overall 13th


  • Last year: did not participate in Super Rugby. Were given a place this season at the expense of the Lions.
  • Pre-season: lost 41-31 to the Lions
  • Squad: Kevin Buys, Charl du Plessis, Jaco Engels, Schalk Ferreira, Ross Geldenhuys, Lizo Gqoboka, Hannes Franklin, Bandise Maku, Edgar Marutlulle, Rynier Bernardo, David Bulbring, Armand du Preez, Samora Fihlani, Darron Nell, Steven Sykes, Wayne van Heerden, Boetie Britz, Cornell du Preez, Tomás Leonardi, Thabo Mamojele, Mpho Mbiyozo, Devin Oosthuizen, Wimpie van der Walt, Jacques Engelbrecht, Luke Watson, Johan Herbst, Scott Mathie, Shaun Venter, Nicolás Vergallo, Demetri Catrakilis, Wesley Dunlop, Burton Francis, George Whitehead, Ronnie Cooke, Shane Gates, Siyanda Grey, Tiger Mangweni, Waylon Murray, Hadleigh Parkes, Wayne Stevens, Andries Strauss, Scott van Breda, Michael Killian, Norman Nelson, Sergeal Petersen, Marcello Sampson, Ntabeni Dukisa, SP Marais, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Mzwandile Stick, Elric van Vuuren.
  • Notes: all indications are that they will be in for a tough first season in the league. While the implications were talked down by both sides, it doesn’t help that they lost to the Lions pre-season. While the squad desperately lacks in depth, they did manage to acquire Argentinian players Nicolas Vergallo and Tomas Leonardi in the off-season.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 5th – overall 15th


  • Last year: 3rd in the South African conference, 6th overall. Upset the Reds in the qualifiers and the Stormers in the semis. Lost to the Chiefs in the final.
  • Pre-season: beat Leopards 71-8, beat Pumas 50-19
  • Squad: Dale Chadwick, Jannie du Plessis, Wiehahn Herbst, Tendai Mtawarira, Julian Redelinghuys, Nick Schonert, Craig Burden, Kyle Cooper, Bismarck du Plessis, Monde Hadebe, Anton Bresler, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jandré Marais, Franco van der Merwe (loan), Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Marcell Coetzee, Jean Deysel, Lubabalo Mtembu, Keegan Daniel, Ryan Kankowski, Conrad Hoffmann, Charl McLeod, Cobus Reinach, Butch James, Patrick Lambie, Meyer Bosman, Paul Jordaan, Marius Joubert, François Steyn, Tim Whitehead, Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Sibusiso Sithole, Louis Ludik, Gouws Prinsloo, Riaan Viljoen.
  • Notes: Sharks captain Keegan Daniel is out for 6 weeks with a knee injury, while Tim Whitehead is out for 6-8 weeks with a broken arm. Both injuries were picked during the pre-season game against the Leopards. The Sharks had a great post-season last year but lost Frederic Michalak and Steven Sykes during the off-season. With that being said they did acquire Butch James and Franco van der Merwe. They will start the season without Bismarck du Plessis, who has a knee injury. He is expected back sometime around the 8th round. If the Sharks can scrape into the playoffs with a fully fit squad then they could pose the same headaches they did last season.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 3rd – overall 6th


  • Last year: 1st in the South African conference, 1st overall. Lost to the Sharks in the semis.
  • Pre-season: lost to the Cheetahs 27-26, beat Boland Cavaliers 57-0
  • Squad: Deon Carstens, Patric Cilliers, Brok Harris, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Deon Fourie, Tiaan Liebenberg, Siyabonga Ntubeni, Andries Bekker, Ruan Botha, Eben Etzebeth, De Kock Steenkamp, Don Armand, Schalk Burger , Nizaam Carr , Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi, Michael Rhodes, Duane Vermeulen, Dewaldt Duvenage, Nic Groom, Louis Schreuder, Peter Grant, Elton Jantjies, Gary van Aswegen, Marcel Brache, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, JP du Plessis, Gio Aplon, Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana, Gerhard van den Heever, Joe Pietersen, Jaco Taute.
  • Notes: lock Eben Etzebeth has been ruled out for 6-8 weeks with an ankle injury. The Stormers did well to pick up Elton Jantjies on loan from the Lions. They now have a good amount of depth at the No. 10 position. The Stormers welcome back Schalk Burger, who was out for 11 months with injury, however he won’t be ready for the start of the season.
  • The Roar: Predicted finish – conference 1st – overall 1st
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