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Super Rugby preview: Blues to return to winning ways after international break, Highlanders to topple Chiefs


With the All Blacks' series with France done and dusted, Super Rugby is back with a bang. Four Kiwi sides are in action this week, with only the Crusaders having the round off.

Blues flanker Jerome Kaino with a strong carry against the Chiefs during a Super Rugby match. Source: Photosport

1 NEWS NOW rugby expert Campbell Burnes breaks down all the action, and what to expect from the Kiwi sides this weekend.

Blues v Reds: Blues by 5

This is the Blues' last chance to earn some respect back from their home fans after a winless season at Eden Park. But it is asking a lot to draw most of their motivation from Jerome Kaino's last match on the ground. Blake Gibson is finally back in the No 7 jersey and will oppose the wily veteran George Smith. Michael Collins slots into the midfield, where he made a name for himself at Otago BHS. The Reds have four Wallabies, including Lukhan Tui back in their starting XV as they search for their first win here since 2012. They can do it, but that will depend on which home team turns up.

Highlanders v Chiefs: Highlanders by 5

It will be warmer in Suva than in Dunedin, but one would expect the Highlanders to kick just as much, so be prepared, Solomon Alaimalo. The Chiefs have selected seven All Blacks in their pack, including the welcome return for Sam Cane, who was clearly short of a gallop in the test series. Pre-June form favours the Highlanders, but they will need to be accurate at the breakdown and at set-piece, or the Chiefs will pounce. Lima Sopoaga versus Damian McKenzie, anyone?

Brumbies v Hurricanes: Hurricanes by 2

On one hand, the Hurricanes will have Nehe Milner-Skudder and Jeff Toomaga-Allen jumping out of their skins after each receiving precisely zero game time during the test series. On the other hand, they are without Brad Shields, Ardie Savea and Beauden Barrett. That, coupled with David Pocock's presence, after showing his star quality for the Wallabies against Ireland, will keep this one close. Sam Henwood is a fine player, but will have his work cut out at the breakdown against this muscular fetcher.