Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament kicks off tonight

By Te Ao - Māori News

Although the Super Rugby Aotearoa season is over, with the Crusaders getting their fifth championship, Super Rugby is still powering on with the Trans-Tasman tournament kicking off tonight.

The Highlanders will host the newly crowned Super Rugby AU champions, the Queensland Reds, at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

The Highlanders, who didn't do too well in the Super Rugby Aotearoa season only mustering three wins, will be looking to come hard and fast into the first match against the Australian champions. 

The team's captain, Aaron Smith, having already played against Reds coach Brad Thorn, says that he knows his style, and will be looking to play against it. 

"There are still opportunities we see to exploit in the Reds' defensive pattern but the game will be won or lost by how we defend," Smith told superrugby.co.nz.

Smith, having already played against Reds coach Brad Thorn, says he knows his style, and will be looking to play against it. After watching how the Reds played last week, Smith will be looking at playing a strong defence as well as disrupting the Reds' defensive line. 

"There are still opportunities we see to exploit in the Reds' defensive pattern but the game will be won or lost by how we defend," he said.

Smith also says the pressure is on for the Reds and he'll be looking to take advantage of that. They've just come off of a tough fought battle to win the Super Rugby Australian championship only having a short week to recover, whereas the Highlanders have had to days of rest, recovery and training. 

Kick-off for this matchup is at 7:05pm

After that game, we'll get to see the Hurricanes take on the Waratahs at the Sydney Cricket Ground Stadium.

The Cane's will be looking at turning a new leaf for the Trans-Tasman tournament after they too had a bad season, only managing two wins.

Head Coach Jason Holland told superrugby.co.nz, despite having a rough season, the team managed to finish it on a high note with a win against the Highlanders. After having a good wind-down period, Holland says the boys are rearing to get back into it. 

“It does genuinely feel like a new competition to us and the fact that we get to front up against Australian opposition after more than a year has added to that,” he said.

Holland has also made a few changes to his squad, one of them moving Peter Umaga-Jensen to first five-eight, partnering him with Billy Proctor. Alex Fidow and Isaia Walker-Leawere will also join the front row.

“We have a number of guys in the squad who have continued to really put their hand up for selection right through our domestic season and we’ve now given some of them a chance again,” Holland told superrugby.co.nz.

Kick off for this matchup is at 9:45pm (NZ time)