1 NEWS NOW expert's Super Rugby predictions: Hurricanes to edge Crusaders in a dramatic top of the table clash

1 NEWS NOW rugby expert Campbell Burnes breaks down the latest round of Super Rugby action.

Crusaders v Hurricanes - Hurricanes by 1

Watch for the Hurricanes to edge a dramatic top of the table clash and move into pole position. This statement is not just based on the fact that the Crusaders pack is depleted through injury and suspension, and that No 8 Jordan Taufua is a late scratching.

But the Hurricanes are due another dominant outing, having headed the Crusaders with their physicality in March. Matt Todd versus Ardie Savea, not to mention Ben Lam versus Seta Tamanivalu, will be match-ups to monitor closely.

Karl Tu’Inukuafe of the Chiefs drives forward
Karl Tu’Inukuafe of the Chiefs drives forward Source: Photosport

Chiefs v Waratahs - Chiefs by 3

Buoyed by their hiding of the Highlanders last weekend, the Waratahs are virtually unchanged, but have promoted sniping halfback Nick Phipps. The Chiefs are back in the comforts of home, but still do not have Sam Cane.

So it's over to Mitch Karpik to show his considerable wares against Michael Hooper. Finally we get to see the midfield pairing of Charlie Ngatai and Anton Lienert-Brown in tandem. Pundits will be paying closer attention to new All Blacks selection, prop Karl Tu'inukuafe. This will not be a blowout either way.

Taqele Naiyaravoro of the Waratahs passes the ball to Michael Hooper during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium
Taqele Naiyaravoro of the Waratahs passes the ball to Michael Hooper during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Waratahs and the Highlanders at Allianz Stadium Source: Getty

Reds v Highlanders - Reds by 3

Sometimes shocking news – such as the fact that Reds prop James Slipper has tested positive for cocaine – can have a galvanising effect on a team.

That is what I am picking with the Reds, so gallant on defeat in Wellington last Friday, and who now host a side to whom they have never lost at Suncorp. Furthermore, the Highlanders are resting a clutch of All Blacks, including Ben Smith. The upside is that Liam Squire makes a long-awaited return via the bench.

Hurricanes player Beauden Barrett during their Super Rugby Pre-Season game Crusaders v Hurricanes. Lansdowne Park, Blenheim, New Zealand. Friday 19 February 2016. Copyright Photo: Chris Symes / www.photosport.nz
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'He's only just beginning' – Steve Hansen gushes over Rieko Ioane's new deal

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says that there's more to come from star winger Rieko Ioane, as the youngster put pen to paper on a new deal with New Zealand Rugby.

Since making his debut at the end of 2016, Ioane, 21, has been a standout for the All Blacks, displacing Julian Savea as the first-choice in the number 11 jersey.

Speaking to media ahead of his side's departure to Argentina, Hansen spoke of his delight at Ioane's commitment to the All Blacks.

"He's a special player and he's only at the beginning of his career," Hansen began.

"What he's done so far, with maturity and greater game understanding is just going to get better and better.

"He's only just beginning."

The winger has recommitted to New Zealand Rugby for another four years. Source: 1 NEWS



Rieko Ioane on rejecting huge overseas deals to stay in NZ: 'The Black jersey is enough for me'

All Blacks winger Rieko Ioane has spoken about rejecting lucrative overseas deals to remain in New Zealand, recommitting to NZR with a new four-year deal.

Ioane, 21, and brother Akira signed on the dotted line to remain in New Zealand for the next four years, fronting media at Auckland Airport to explain his decision.

"I want to establish myself in New Zealand," he began.

"The black jersey is enough for me, and is enough to keep me here.

"Rugby is what I love playing, and to play in the best team in the world is motivating enough for me, overseas didn't come into the picture."

The All Blacks star penned a new four-year NZR deal this morning. Source: 1 NEWS



Kieran Read out, Vaea Fifita recalled for All Blacks' trip to Argentina

All Blacks captain Kieran Read will miss his side's Rugby Championship clash with Argentina in Buenos Aires, with Wellington flanker Vaea Fifita called in as a replacement.

Read, 32, will be sent straight to South Africa, missing the All Blacks' Argentinian leg of their Rugby Championship campaign, coach Steve Hansen confirmed to media at Auckland Airport today.

"The original plan was always to make sure we don't have him sitting in a plane too long," Hansen began.

"When you go to Argentina then to South Africa, short turnaround, and not a great ride from Argentina to South Africa.

"The smart play is to leave him at home and send him straight to Africa."

Read's absence sees Vaea Fifita return to the side, having originally been overlooked for the All Blacks' Rugby Championship campaign, with the Wellington flanker controversially stating that he didn't understand why he'd been dropped.

"He's always been on our mind," Hansen said of Fifita.

"We've given him the task of going and playing some Mitre 10 Cup, he's done that.

"With Reado not coming we need a replacement, he's the obvious man."

The All Blacks' newest weapon sat out of practice with a sore shoulder today. Source: 1 NEWS


'I'm sure we'll see his game go to even greater heights' - All Blacks star Rieko Ioane signs long term deal with NZ Rugby

Star winger Rieko Ioane has committed to the All Blacks for four more years in a significant win for New Zealand Rugby.

The 21-year-old, who has scored 18 tries from 18 Tests, was the subject of intense offshore club interest but has chosen to remain put at his Super Rugby team the Blues.

His deal is the longest of any current All Black, taking him to the end of 2022.

Ioane was last year crowned World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year and was also a nominee for the main award.

His electric pace and nose for the tryline has been a key element for the world champions, most notably on last year's tour of Europe when he single-handedly proved the difference in Test wins over Scotland and Wales.

"I want to give it my best shot at serving the black jersey and, hopefully, I'll get the chance to play at the Rugby World Cup in the future. That's a huge motivator for me," he said.

Akira Ioane was an unlucky exclusion from Steve Hansen's squad this morning.
Source: 1 NEWS

Ioane's older brother Akira, 23, has also extended his NZ Rugby contract, until 2021.

The powerful Blues No.8 is yet to be capped but played a midweek match for the All Blacks in France last November.

Both brothers are former New Zealand sevens stars who are regarded by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen as among the country's premier young players.

"With his growing maturity and growth in his game understanding, I'm sure we'll see Rieko's game go to even greater heights," Hansen said.

"Akira is also an immense talent who has a bright future in our national game and we congratulate him on his decision as well."

(L to R) Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane and Akira Ioane,
All Blacks training session ahead of the upcoming test series against France. Alexandra Park. Auckland, New Zealand. Tuesday 22 May 2018. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Rieko Ioane and Akira Ioane during an All Blacks training session in Auckland. Source: Photosport