1 NEWS NOW expert's round 9 Super Rugby Picks: Hurricanes to topple Chiefs in blockbuster Kiwi derby

We have every reason to feel the Hurricanes will play better than last week, while the Blues and Highlanders should rack up relatively comfortable wins. Famous last words?

Hurricanes winger Julian Savea in action against the Melbourne Rebels during a Super Rugby match. Source: Photosport

Hurricanes v Chiefs - Hurricanes by 7

There are usually no prisoners taken in this derby, so do not expect any on Friday night. Beauden Barrett is back for the Canes, but Damian McKenzie is in doubt. But TJ Perenara is definitely out and that will hurt the home side more than they hope. Matt Proctor and Toby Smith come into the starting line-up which will not weaken them one iota. The Chiefs will be hoping that, with Charlie Ngatai at fullback and Marty McKenzie at pivot, they finish in more clinical fashion than they did against the Blues.

Sunwolves v Blues - Blues by 15

We all know the Blues melted under the harsh July Tokyo sun in 2017. That will not happen again, not in Patrick Tuipulotu's 50th match for the franchise and with the team crying out for win No 2. The injury list is lengthening, yet they should still be too good for a Sunwolves side that can score points, but struggles to stop them being scored. Rieko Ioane and Orbyn Leger pair up in the midfield, though they do not seem to be in the right jerseys. Leger is a 12-10 but runs out at centre.

Highlanders v Brumbies - Highlanders by 11

A week ago we would have picked the Highlanders by 25 in this clash. But ACT found its long-lost mojo last weekend and will seek to work off the back of forwards such as Scott Sio and Rory Arnold to complement flier Henry Speight in his 100th Super Rugby match. The Highlanders, conversely, straight off the bye, have returned Liam Coltman and Liam Sopoaga to the fray, while Elliot Dixon goes, strangely, back to the pine. Should they win, as expected, this will be 34th straight unbeaten trans-Tasman clash for NZ franchises.