Super Rugby Season

Pocock to miss start of Super Rugby season

The 29-year-old flanker, who missed the best part of two seasons with knee injuries in 2013 and 2014, picked up the latest problem while playing in Japan after being given the year off from Super Rugby and tests to pursue his own interests.

Pocock is likely to miss at least four rounds of the Super Rugby season, which gets underway with an all-South Africa round on February 17th.

Read to miss start of Super Rugby

 

Read sat out the All Blacks' final game of the year against Wales last month due to the back injury.

The 32-year-old said on social media that he'll undergo surgery this Saturday and will miss the start of the Super Rugby season.

The expected recovery time for such injuries is four months.

The Crusaders' first game of the season is against the Chiefs in late February.

 

Photo caption Kieran Read 

     

Draw made for Super Rugby 2018

With three teams having left the 18-team four-conference competition is now a 15-team, three-conference format.

Gone are South African sides the Southern Kings and Cheetahs, who have joined the European Pro14 competition, and Australian team the Western Force.

Next year each team will play 16 conference matches, with eight matches within their own conference home and away, then four matches against teams from each of the other two conferences.

Ben Smith's future undecided

Smith hasn't played since leaving the field during the first test between the All Blacks and British and Irish Lions last month.

The 31-year-old was thought to have suffered a third concussion this year, only for All Blacks coach Steve Hansen to reveal on Thursday it wasn't concussion, but rather an inner-ear problem hindering the Otago product.

Smith won't feature in the series deciding test against the Lions on Saturday night, but the All Blacks vice-captain is in Auckland helping the team prepare for the fixture. 

Whiteley out for up to eight weeks

The Lions number eight led the Springboks to victory over France in the first two Tests after being named as captain by Allister Coetzee last month.

Whiteley missed the win over Les Bleus in the third Test last Saturday, though, after doing damage during the warm-up at Ellis Park.

Coetzee revealed after his side sealed a whitewash over Guy Noves' men that his skipper would discover the extent of his injury on Monday and it was confirmed on Tuesday that he faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines with damaged ligaments.

Malakai Fekitoa finding his stride

In fact, the 24-year-old, 23-test centre has a good feeling about what lies around the corner, both for himself and the southern franchise that on Saturday night scraped out a much-needed first victory of the Super Rugby season on Eden Park against the Blues.

Blues call up their ABs

Having used a talent-stacked bench without fruition against the Chiefs last week after being reduced to 14 men for more than half the game, Coach Tana Umaga has given his stars a chance from the opening whistle in this key Kiwi derby.

Co-captains James Parsons and Jerome Kaino are named in the pack that also sees prop Charlie Faumuina and lock Patrick Tuipulotu in the starting eight.

There's a further change in the forwards with North Harbour newcomer Murphy Taramai to make his first Super Rugby start at No 8, meaning Akira Ioane drops to the bench.