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1 NEWS NOW expert's round 11 Super Rugby picks: Injuries will prove costly for the Highlanders


Four games involving New Zealand teams; normally one can safely predict four Kiwi wins. Not this time. The Jaguares, at Eden Park, and the Bulls, at their Loftus citadel, will fancy their chances of two big scalps at the expense of the Blues and Highlanders respectively.

Rob Thompson of the Highlanders on the charge. Source: Photosport

Hurricanes v Sunwolves: Hurricanes by 38

If the weather holds, then picking the margin will be a lottery as there is no evidence to suggest the Hurricanes will not win easily.

The Sunwolves, once the lightning struck, were able to keep the Crusaders in check last weekend, but class will always win out. Nehe Milner-Skudder makes his long-awaited return, while Ardie Savea is back after several weeks on the injured list.

Blues v Jaguares: Blues by 9

We'll give the Blues the benefit of the doubt and pick them to win this tricky encounter against the hot to trot Jaguares. To do so, they will seek impact off the bench from returning skipper Augustine Pulu, but they will need physicality at the ruck and crisper passing in the backline. That is the minimum to nail their first home victory of the season.

Brumbies v Crusaders: Crusaders by 10

News flash, David Pocock is out with a calf strain. Reality check, he would not make the difference anyway. Last week the opensider had a running battle with referee Angus Gardner, so he cuts a frustrated figure. The Crusaders are at close to full noise, with Mike Delany, as one of 14 All Blacks, again running the cutter after his classy display against the Sunwolves. Lock Sam Carter will suit up for his 100th Super Rugby cap.

Bulls v Highlanders: Bulls by 3

It is not often we tip a New Zealand defeat, but the Bulls have won three straight and are starting to look ominous. They have lost prop Pierre Schoeman for six weeks on a biting charge, but that should not worry the home side unduly. The Highlanders have opted to shift Ben Smith to the wing, with Fletcher Smith, a first five shifting to the back. Interestingly, in the pack, Elliot Dixon starts in place of hat-trick hero Shannon Frizell, meaning they expect a torrid breakdown battle. Siate Tokolahi is the latest prop to suffer the injury curse.