The colour, action and stars of Investec Super Rugby return this weekend as the Highlanders, Crusaders, Hurricanes, Chiefs and Blues push for a place in this year’s competition playoffs rounds.
A super finish is in store with four New Zealand teams – the Chiefs, Hurricanes, Highlanders and defending champions the Crusaders – all jostling for play-off berths and a number of significant player milestones set to be celebrated over the last three weeks of scheduled rounds.
The closing rounds of competition will see each New Zealand team play at least one last home game, as well as a number of crucial match ups set to determine quarter final match ups next month.
The Crusaders lead the pack, currently topping the Investec Super Rugby table, but they have another week on the sidelines with a bye this round. While they are almost guaranteed to host a quarter final, the Hurricanes are hot on their heels and could pip them for the number one position.
Hurricanes fans will be hoping for a strong finish to the season with their team able to finish anywhere from first to eighth. The good news is they will definitely be in action come quarter finals, the even better news is that three wins on the trot could secure top spot.
The Highlanders and Chiefs go head to head this weekend in Fiji and currently hold wild card spots heading into the business end of the season. Both will need to secure victories in the closing rounds with the Rebels and Jaguares hot on their tails.
Up in Auckland, Blues fans will be heading to Eden Park for their last home match of the season and will be seeking to send out a club legend in style.
Loose Forward Jerome Kaino will play his last match at the Garden of Eden, it will be his 137th appearance for the club, equalling Tony Woodcock’s record as the second most capped Blues player, behind Keven Mealamu.
The only New Zealand player to have more Super Rugby appearances than Mealamu is the Crusaders’ Wyatt Crockett who is set to play his 200th match for the Crusaders before the season is out. Crockett is the most capped Super Rugby player in the history of the competition.
The milestones continue with several players in line to run out for their 100th Super Rugby matches, starting with Hurricanes captain Brad Shields, currently on 99 Super Rugby caps.
Hurricanes teammate Jeff Toomaga-Allen and Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick will also bring up 100 Super Rugby appearances should their teams make the quarter finals.
Click here to have a look at the cheer chart to see what your team has to do to make the quarter finals.
Remaining matches for New Zealand teams – all matches broadcast live on SKY.
29 June, Blues v Reds, Eden Park
30 June, Highlanders v Chiefs, Suva, Fiji
30 June, Brumbies v Hurricanes, Canberra
6 July, Crusaders v Highlanders, AMI Stadium
7 July, Chiefs v Brumbies, FMG Stadium Waikato
7 July, Hurricanes v Blues, Westpac Stadium
13 July, Chiefs v Hurricanes, FMG Stadium Waikato
14 July, Highlanders v Rebels, Forsyth Barr Stadium
14 July, Crusaders v Blues, AMI Stadium