How your club fared in the Super Rugby off-season
Quade Cooper and Ma’a Nonu headline the off-season moves as we count down to the 2019 Super Rugby campaign.
Check out how your club fared as we run through all the transfers and pick each team’s best XV.
NEW PODCAST! Greg Martin calls for sweeping Wallabies changes while Matt Hodgson takes us inside the radical new Rapid Rugby competition
IN: Vunipola Fifita, Tom Ross, James Slipper, Murray Douglas, Pete Samu, Bayley Kuenzle, Len Ikitau, Noah Lolesio, Irae Simone, Tom Wright, Toni Pulu
OUT: Ben Alexander, Mees Erasmus, Nic Mayhew, Faalelei Sione, Robbie Abel, Richie Arnold, Michael Oakman-Hunt, Lolo Fakaosilea, Isi Naisarani, Kyle Godwin, Andrew Smith, James Dargaville, James Verity-Amm
SQUAD: Allan Alaalatoa, Vunipola Fifita, Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, Tom Ross, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a, Joshua Mann-Rea, Connal McInerney, Rory Arnold, Sam Carter, Murray Douglas, Blake Enever, Darcy Swain, Tom Cusack, Lachlan McCaffrey, David Pocock, Pete Samu, Rob Valetini, Ben Hyne, Ryan Lonergan, Matt Lucas, Joe Powell, Wharenui Hawera, Bayley Kuenzle, Christian Lealiifano, Len Ikitau, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Tevita Kuridrani, Noah Lolesio, Irae Simone, Tom Wright, Andy Muirhead, Chance Peni, Toni Pulu, Henry Speight, Lausii Taliauli, Tom Banks, Mack Hansen
BEST XV: Banks, Pulu, Kuridrani, Lealiifano, Speight, Hawera, Powell, Valetini, Pocock, Samu, Arnold, Carter, Alaalatoa, Fainga’a, Sio
VERDICT: Some handy pick-ups for the Brumbies as they look to rebound from the disappointment of missing this year’s finals.
Pete Samu replaces Isi Naisarani in a talented and versatile loose forward group while former Wallaby James Slipper likewise adds plenty of experience in the front row.
Former Chiefs flyer Toni Pulu is an excellent finisher while Scottish lock Murray Douglas, by way of the Hurricanes and Rebels, is reliable as they come.
Tom Wright, the former Manly NRL player, is an intriguing pick-up and will compete with Christian Lealiifano and Wharenui Hawera for a starting spot at No 10 and 12.
TITLE ODDS: $19
IN: Mees Erasmus, Hugh Roach, Luke Jones, Brad Wilkin, Isi Naisarani, Quade Cooper, Matt Toomua, Campbell Magnay
OUT: Laurie Weeks, Geoff Parling, Colby Fainga’a, Lopeti Timani, Amanaki Mafi, Jack Debreczeni, Jack McGregor, David Horwitz, Henry Hutchison
SQUAD: Jermaine Ainsley, Ben Daley, Mees Erasmus, Pone Fa’amausili, Tetera Faulkner, Fereti Sa’aga, Sam Talakai, Hugh Roach, Jordan Uelese, Adam Coleman, Matt Philip, Angus Cottrell, Richard Hardwick, Ross Haylett-Petty, Luke Jones, Rob Leota, Brad Wilkin, Isi Naisarani, Will Genia, Harrison Goddard, Michael Ruru, Quade Cooper, Matt Toomua, Reece Hodge, Billy Meakes, Sione Tuipulotu, Semisi Tupou, Tom English, Marika Koroibete, Campbell Magnay, Sefa Naivalu, Dane Haylett-Petty, Jack Maddocks
BEST XV: Haylett-Petty, Maddocks, Hodge, Toomua, Koroibete, Cooper, Genia, Naisarani, Cottrell, Jones, Coleman, Philip, Ainsley, Uelese, Faulkner
VERDICT: The Rebels will be able to roll out an all Wallaby backline in 2019 although Matt Toomua won’t join until he completes his commitments with Leicester.
Billy Meakes is a more than capable placeholder at No 12, however, while Sefa Naivalu might have to settle for a bench spot.
Isi Naisarani is a ready-made replacement for disgraced No 8 Amanaki Mafi as he looks to build his Rugby World Cup claims, while blindside/lock Luke Jones is back from Bordeaux to also put his hand up for the Wallabies.
But all the attention will be on Quade Cooper and whether he can recapture his playmaking magic with his old mate Will Genia.
TITLE ODDS: $51
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IN: Gavin Luka, Efi Ma’afu, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Matt McGahan, Jock Campbell, Will Eadie
OUT: Sef Fa’agase, James Slipper, Markus Vanzati, Andrew Ready, Kane Douglas, Michael Gunn, Reece Hewat, George Smith, Quade Cooper, Jono Lance, Ben Lucas, Lachlan Maranta, Eto Nabuli, Jayden Ngamanu
SQUAD: Harry Hoopert, Gavin Luka, JP Smith, Ruan Smith, Taniela Tupou, Efi Ma’afu, Alex Mafi, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Angus Blyth, Harry Hockings, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Adam Korczyk, Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Caleb Timu, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright, Scott Higginbotham, Tate McDermott, Moses Sorovi, James Tuttle, Matt McGahan, Hamish Stewart, Teti Tela, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia’aua, Jock Campbell, Filipo Daugunu, Will Eadie, Izaia Perese, Jordan Petaia, Karmichael Hunt, Aidan Toua
BEST XV: Petaia, Daugunu, Kerevi, Paia’aua, Perese, Stewart, McDermott, Higginbotham, Wright, Timu, Rodda, Salakaia-Loto, Tupou, Paenga-Amosa, JP Smith
VERDICT: Coach Brad Thorn has doubled down on his staunch policy of developing young, local talent, with George Smith, Quade Cooper, James Slipper, Kane Douglas, Jono Lance and Ben Lucas all moving on and taking vast experience and ability with them.
It places huge pressure on captain Scott Higginbotham and the side’s young Test players Samu Kerevi, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou and the recently renamed Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.
And then there is Jordan Petaia, the teenage sensation who could play at fullback, on either wing or at outside centre.
Former Blues five-eighth Matt McGahan — the son of Kiwis league great Hugh — is an interesting addition and will view with Hamish Stewart and Duncan Paia’aua for the playmaking positions.
TITLE ODDS: $41
IN: Rory O’Connor, Le Roux Roets
OUT: Paddy Ryan, Kalivati Tawake, Hugh Roach, Kelly Meafua, Brad Wilkin, Michael Snowden, Irae Simone, Andrew Kellaway, Taqele Naiyaravoro
SQUAD: Harry Johnson-Holmes, Sekope Kepu, Rory O’Connor, Tom Robertson, Matt Sandell, Shambeckler Vui, Cody Walker, Damien Fitzpatrick, Tolu Latu, Ryan McCauley, Le Roux Roets, Rob Simmons, Nick Palmer, Tom Staniforth, Ned Hanigan, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Will Miller, Lachlan Swinton, Michael Wells, Jed Holloway, Jake Gordon
Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale, Bryce Hegarty, Mack Mason, Lalakai Foketi, Alex Newsome, Cam Clark, Curtis Rona, Israel Folau
BEST XV: Folau, Clark, Rona, Beale, Newsome, Foley, Gordon, Wells, Hooper, Dempsey, Simmons, Holloway, Kepu, Latu, Johnson-Holmes
VERDICT: NSW still have a bit of box ticking to do on their 2019 squad, with Wallabies veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper yet to officially sign on and big winger John Folau — Israel’s younger brother — creating a positive impression at training.
The Tahs have recruited man mountain South African lock Le Roux Roets — 2m and 135kg — to bolster their pack which relied on mobility not size last season.
Coach Daryl Gibson has admitted he burnt out stars Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale with too many minutes in 2018 so expect Mack Mason and Lalakai Foketi to see plenty of gametime as NSW look to improve on their semifinal exit away to the Lions.
TITLE ODDS: $10
IN: Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Marcel Renata, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Jed Brown, Tom Robinson, Hoskins Sotutu, Harry Plummer, Levi Aumua, Ma’a Nonu, Tanielu Tele’a
OUT: Pauliasi Manu, Isaac Salmon, Mike Tamoaieta, Ross Wright, Lyndon Dunshea, Matiaha Martin, Ben Nee-Nee, Sione Havili, Jerome Kaino, Antonio Kiri Kiri, Glenn Preston, Kara Pryor, Murphy Taramai, Bryn Gatland, Daniel Kirkpatrick, Terrence Hepetema, Matthew Johnson, Orbyn Leger, Tumua Manu, George Moala, Tamati Tua, Jordan Hyland
SQUAD: Alex Hodgman, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Marcel Renata, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Leni Apisai, Matt Moulds, James Parsons, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Jacob Pierce, Scott Scrafton, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jed Brown, Blake Gibson, Dalton Papalii, Tom Robinson, Hoskins Sotutu, Jimmy Tupou, Akira Ioane, Sam Nock, Augustine Pulu, Jonathan Ruru, Otere Black, Stephen Perofeta, Harry Plummer, Levi Aumua, TJ Faiane, Ma’a Nonu, Tanielu Tele’a, Sonny Bill Williams, Caleb Clarke, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Melani Nanai, Michael Collins, Jordan Trainor
BEST XV: Duffie, Clarke, Nonu, Williams, R Ioane, Perofeta, Pulu, A Ioane, Gibson, Papalii, Cowley-Tuioti, Tuipolotu, Tuungafasi, Parsons, Tu’inukuafe
VERDICT: The return from France of Ma’a Nonu and the luring of Karl Tu’inukuafe from the Chiefs headline the Blues’ 2019 recruitment drive.
Veteran Nonu and Sonny Bill Williams will form a power packed midfield but might have to toss a coin to decide who wears the preferred No 12 jersey.
More important, though, is the eternal Blues question of who wears No 10.
Stephen Perofeta, Otere Black and Harry Plummer are the options for new coach Leon MacDonald, who has surpringly taken the reins from former All Blacks teammate Tana Umaga.
TITLE ODDS: $31
IN: Reuben O’Neill, Laghlan McWhannell, Jack Debreczeni, Tumua Manu, Ataata Moeakiola, Etene Nanai-Seturo
OUT: Mitchell Graham, Sam Prattley, Jeff Thwaites, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Dominic Bird, Matt Matich, Liam Messam, Jesse Parete, Luteru Laulala, Johnny Fa’auli, Charlie Ngatai, Regan Verney, Levi Aumua, Tim Nanai-Williams, Declan O’Donnell, Toni Pulu, Sam McNicol
SQUAD: Kane Hames, Sefo Kautai, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Reuben O’Neill, Aidan Ross, Angus Ta’avao, Nathan Harris, Liam Polwart, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Michael Allardice, Tyler Ardron, Fin Hoeata, Laghlan McWhannell, Brodie Retallick, Lachlan Boshier, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Karpik, Taleni Seu, Pita Gus Sowakula, Mitchell Brown, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Jonathan Taumateine, Brad Weber, Jack Debreczeni, Tiaan Falcon, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown, Tumua Manu, Alex Nankivell, Bailyn Sullivan, Solomon Alaimalo, Ataata Moeakiola, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Shaun Stevenson, Sean Wainui, Marty McKenzie
BEST XV: Stevenson, Nanai-Seturo, Lienert-Brown, Nankivell, Alaimalo, D McKenzie, Tahuriorangi, Jacobson, Cane, Boshier, Ardron, Retallick, Laulala, Harris, Hames
VERDICT: Chiefs coach Colin Cooper has made three interesting additions to his backline in Jack Debreczeni, Ataata Moeakiola and Etene Nanai-Seturo.
The Auckland-born Debreczeni is looking to reignite his career after playing 53 games for the Rebels without ever truly delivering on his potential.
Moeakiola is a Tongan-born Japanese international blessed with real power and pace, as is Nanai-Seturo, the sought after schoolboys star who won Commonwealth Games gold with New Zealand’s sevens team last year.
All Blacks star Sam Cane is targeting a return in May after fracturing a bone in his neck against the Springboks in October.
TITLE ODDS: $6
IN: Harry Allan, Whetu Douglas, Ere Enari, Leicester Faingaanuku, Ngane Punivai
OUT: Donald Brighouse, Wyatt Crockett, Chris King, Sam Anderson-Heather, Sebastian Siataga, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Pete Samu, Jack Stratton, Mike Delany, Seta Tamanivalu, Tima Faingaanuku, Jone Macilai-Tori
SQUAD: Mike Alaalatoa, Harry Allan, Owen Franks, Oliver Jager, Joe Moody, Tim Perry, Ben Funnell, Andrew Makalio, Codie Taylor, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Quinten Strange, Sam Whitelock, Ethan Blackadder, Mitchell Dunshea, Billy Harmon, Tom Sanders, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Whetu Douglas, Kieran Read, Mitchell Drummond, Ere Enari, Bryn Hall, Brett Cameron, Mitch Hunt, Richie Mo’unga, Tim Bateman, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, George Bridge, Braydon Ennor, Leicester Faingaanuku, Will Jordan, Manasa Mataele, Ngane Punivai, Israel Dagg, David Havili
BEST XV: Havili, Dagg, Goodhue, Crotty, Bridge, Mo’unga, Hall, Read, Todd, Taufua, Barrett, Whitelock, Franks, Taylor, Moody
VERDICT: Scott Robertson’s Crusaders look as strong as ever as they gun for a three-peat of titles next season.
Seta Tamanivalu, Wyatt Crockett, and Pete Samu are losses but nothing that they shouldn’t be able to deal with as they sprinkle in a handful of promising youngsters from their own system.
Keep an eye out for talented outside back Will Jordan, a New Zealand under-20 and Tasman star who was kept on the Super Rugby sidelines this year with vertigo issues.
TITLE ODDS: $4
IN: Sef Fa’agase, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Ayden Johnstone, Ray Niuia, Jack Whetton, Folau Fakatava, Marty Banks, Bryn Gatland
OUT: Guy Millar, Aki Seiuli, Kalolo Tuiloma, Greg Pleasants-Tate, Alex Ainley, Dan Pryor, Josh Renton, Fletcher Smith, Lima Sopoaga
SQUAD: Sef Fa’agase, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Ayden Johnstone, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Tyrel Lomax, Siate Tokolahi, Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Ray Niuia, Josh Dickson, Tom Franklin, Jackson Hemopo, Pari Pari Parkinson, Jack Whetton, Shannon Frizell, Dillon Hunt, James Lentjes, Luke Whitelock, Elliot Dixon, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Liam Squire, Folau Fakatava, Kayne Hammington, Aaron Smith, Marty Banks, Bryn Gatland, Josh Ioane, Richard Buckman, Matt Faddes, Rob Thompson, Sio Tomkinson, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Teihorangi Walden, Tevita Li, Josh McKay, Tevita Nabura, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith
BEST XV: B Smith, Naholo, Buckman, Thompson, Li, Gatland, A Smith, Squire, Hunt, Frizell, Franklin, Hemopo, Lomax, Coltman, Lienert-Brown
VERDICT: Auckland-born former Reds prop Sef Fa’agase has crossed the Tasman and landed a gig with the Highlanders after playing the Mitre 10 Cup season with Canterbury.
It will be interesting to observe his progress but the bigger battle is at No 10, where the departure of Lima Sopoaga to Wasps has left a big hole.
Bryn Gatland, Marty Banks and Josh Ioane are in a three-way tussle for the job, while Aaron Mauger’s side is packed with loose forward options including Shannon Frizell, Dillon Hunt, Luke Whitelock, Elliot Dixon and Liam Squire.
TITLE ODDS: $8
IN: Geoff Cridge, Liam Mitchell, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Fletcher Smith, Billy Proctor, James Marshall, Salesi Rayasi
OUT: Marcel Renata, James O’Reilly, Nathan Vella, Murray Douglas, Michael Fatialofa, Brad Shields, Blade Thomson, Jamie Booth, TJ Va’a, Ihaia West, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Julian Savea
SQUAD: Fraser Armstrong, Chris Eves, Alex Fidow, Ben May, Toby Smith, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli, James Blackwell, Geoff Cridge, Sam Lousi, Liam Mitchell, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Vaea Fifita, Sam Henwood, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Gareth Evans, Finlay Christie, Richard Judd, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Fletcher Smith, Vince Aso, Wes Goosen, Ngani Laumape, Billy Proctor, Matt Proctor, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, James Marshall, Salesi Rayasi, Jordie Barrett, Nehe Milner-Skudder
BEST XV: J Barrett, Milner-Skudder, M Proctor, Laumape, Lam, B Barrett, Perenara, Evans, Savea, Fifita, Lousi, Walker-Leawere, Toomaga-Allen, Coles, Smith
VERDICT: There have been some big changes in Canes country, with assistant coach John Plumtree stepping up to replace Chris Boyd (now Northampton) in the hot seat and senior pro Brad Shields now playing for Wasps and England.
James Marshall, a member of the 2016 title-winning team, is back from England to provide a cool head and utility value while there are big raps on Billy Proctor, the younger brother of tough tackling centre Matt.
They look a little light on at lock, however, after the departures of Michael Fatialofa and Murray Douglas.
It’s a different story at hooker where captain Dane Coles is fit again to join Ricky Riccitelli and Asafo Aumua.
TITLE ODDS: $4.75
IN: Madot Mabokela, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Schalk Brits, Carel du Preez, Paul Schoeman, Muller Uys, Jano Venter, Duane Vermeulen, Theo Maree, Stedman Gans, Franco Naude, Dylan Sage, Cornal Hendricks, Rosko Specman
OUT: Pierre Schoeman, Mornay Smith, Adriaan Strauss, Aston Fortuin, Ruan Nortje, Ruben van Heerden, Shaun Adendorff, Boeta Hamman, Francois Brummer, Dries Swanepoel, Jamba Ulengo
SQUAD: Matthys Basson, Lizo Gqoboka, Madot Mabokela, Simphiwe Matanzima, Nqoba Mxoli, Trevor Nyakane, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Frans van Wyk, Schalk Brits, Johan Grobbelaar, Edgar Marutlulle, Jaco Visagie, Lood de Jager, Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman, Hendre Stassen, Tim Agaba, Thembelani Bholi, Nick de Jager, Carel du Preez, Jannes Kirsten, Paul Schoeman, Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Muller Uys, Marco van Staden
Hanro Liebenberg, Jano Venter, Duane Vermeulen, Theo Maree, Embrose Papier, Ivan van Zyl, Andre Warner, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok, Handre Pollard, Stedman Gans, JT Jackson, Johnny Kotze, Jesse Kriel, Franco Naude, Burger Odendaal, Dylan Sage, Cornal Hendricks, Travis Ismaiel, Duncan Matthews, Rosko Specman, Jade Stighling, Warrick Gelant, Divan Rossouw
BEST XV: Gelant, Ismaiel, Kriel, Odendaal, Specman, Pollard, Papier, Vermeulen, van Staden, N de Jager, L de Jager, Snyman, van Vuuren, Brits, Nyakane
VERDICT: There are big changes afoot in Pretoria, with Springboks and Bulls legend Victor Matfield expected to soon be unveiled as the coaching replacement for John Mitchell, who is now Eddie Jones’ minister of defence with England.
The Bulls have also made some impressive signings, with blockbusting No 8 Duane Vermeulen and hooker Schalk Brits bolstering the pack and sevens stars Rosko Specman, Dylan Sage and Stedman Gans adding some intriguing backline options.
Retired hooker Adriaan Strauss is the most notable loss.
TITLE ODDS: $51
IN: Danie Mienie
OUT: Ruan Dreyer, Jacques van Rooyen, Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Rohan Janse van Rensburg
SQUAD: Jacobie Adriaanse, Johannes Jonker, Danie Mienie, Sti Sithole, Dylan Smith, Malcolm Marx, Lourens Erasmus, Rhyno Herbst, Robert Kruger, Marvin Orie, Cyle Brink, Hacjivah Dayimani, Len Massyn, Marnus Schoeman, Kwagga Smith, Warren Whiteley, Ross Cronje, Nic Groom, Dillon Smit, Elton Jantjies, Shaun Reynolds, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Ruan Combrinck, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Courtnall Skosan, Madosh Tambwe, Andries Coetzee, Sylvian Mahuza
BEST XV: Coetzee, Combrinck, Mapoe, Vorster, Dyantyi, Jantjies, Cronje, Whiteley, K Smith, Brink, Erasmus, Orie, Adriaanse, Marx, D Smith
VERDICT: Three years, three runners-up medals for Super Rugby’s bridesmaids, who look weaker on paper next season.
They should still be very competitive but depth is a concern following the departures of class acts like Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Ruan Dreyer and Rohan Janse van Rensburg.
And with the Rugby World Cup on the horizon, the Lions will have to carefully manage the workloads of Springboks trump cards Malcolm Marx, Aphiwe Dyantyi and Warren Whiteley.
TITLE ODDS: $9
IN: Ruben van Heerden
OUT: Ross Geldenhuys, Franco Marais, Keegan Daniel, Michael Claassens, Garth April, Tristan Blewett, Johan Deysel
SQUAD: Thomas du Toit, Mzamo Majola, John-Hubert Meyer, Coenie Oosthuizen, Akker van der Merwe, Hyron Andrews, Ruan Botha, Jean Droste, Gideon Koegelenberg, Ruben van Heerden, Tyler Paul, Jacques Vermeulen, Wian Vosloo, Louis Schreuder, Cameron Wright, Lukhanyo Am, Marius Louw, S’busiso Nkosi, Kobus van Wyk, Rhyno Smith, Courtney Winnaar
BEST XV: N/A
VERDICT: The Sharks are yet to announce their full squad, so we’ll hold off on having a crack at their best run-on side.
Coach Robert du Preez has lost some experienced campaigners, including hooker Franco Marais, flanker Keegan Daniel, halfback Michael Claasens, utility Garth April and centre Johan Deysel.
The Sharks made the quarterfinals this year but were soundly beaten, 40-10, by the dominant Crusaders in Christchurch.
TITLE ODDS: $29
IN: Kwenzo Blose, Michael Kumbirai, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Chad Solomon, Ernst van Rhyn, Chris Massyn, Nama Xaba, Ruhan Nel, Duncan Saal, Edwill van der Merwe
OUT: JC Janse van Rensburg, Caylib Oosthuizen, Carlu Sadie, Dean Muir, Ramone Samuels, Jan de Klerk, Eduard Zandberg, Stephan de Wit, Nizaam Carr, Dewaldt Duvenage, George Whitehead, Raymond Rhule
SQUAD: Kwenzo Blose, Neethling Fouche, Steven Kitshoff, Michael Kumbirai, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Alistair Vermaak, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni, Chad Solomon, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Salmaan Moerat, JD Schickerling, Ernst van Rhyn, Chris van Zyl, Johan du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Chris Massyn, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Cobus Wiese, Nama Xaba, Juarno Augustus, Jaco Coetzee, Kobus van Dyk, Paul de Wet, Herschel Jantjies, Justin Phillips, Jano Vermaak, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Joshua Stander, Damian Willemse, Damian de Allende, Daniel du Plessis, JJ Engelbrecht, Dan Kriel, Ruhan Nel, EW Viljoen, Dillyn Leyds, Sergeal Petersen, Duncan Saal, Seabelo Senatla, Edwill van der Merwe, Craig Barry, SP Marais
BEST XV: Marais, Leyds, Engelbrecht, de Allende, Senatla, Willemse, de Wet, Notshe, van Dyk, Kolisi, du Toit, Etzebeth, Louw, Mbonambi, Kitshoff
VERDICT: The Stormers have lost several handy players, including prop JC Janse van Rensburg, hooker Ramone Samuels, No 8 Nizaam Carr, halfback Dewaldt Duvenage and winger Raymond Rhule.
But the spine of a good side remains, including world class locking duo Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth, Springboks captain Siya Kolisi, centre Damian de Allende and exciting young playmaker Damian Willemse.
There are also high hopes for sevens convert Ruhan Nel.
TITLE ODDS: $41
OUT: Juan Martin Hernandez, Nicolas Sanchez
SQUAD: Santiago Garcia Botta, Enrique Pieretto, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Matias Alemanno, Marcos Kremer, Guido Petti, Pablo Matera, Javier Ortega Desio, Tomas Cubelli, Bautista Ezcurra, Emiliano Boffelli, Bautista Delguy
BEST XV: N/A
VERDICT: The full Jaguares squad is yet to filter out of Argentina so we’ll hold fire on a best XV.
But losses don’t come much bigger than Nicolas Sanchez’s departure to Stade Francais.
The Pumas pivot was simply outstanding during the Rugby Championship although the presumable replacement, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, is not the worst.
The Jaguares made the finals for the first time in 2018, under Mario Ledesma, who has signed stepped up to be Argentina’s new coach.
Ledesma’s former Test teammate, Gonzalo Quesada, has taken the Jaguares job after 20 years playing and coaching in France.
TITLE ODDS: $13
IN: Tom Rowe, Dan Pryor, Hendrik Tui, Phil Burleigh, Rene Ranger
OUT: Nika Khatiashvili
SQUAD: Asaeli Ai Valu, Keita Inagaki, Koo Ji-won, Craig Millar, Hencus van Wyk, Jaba Bregvadze, Shota Horie, Atsushi Sakate, Grant Hattingh, Kazuki Himeno, James Moore, Tom Rowe, Lappies Labuschagne, Dan Pryor, Ed Quirk, Hendrik Tui, Michael Leitch, Yutaka Nagare, Kaito Shigeno, Fumiaki Tanaka, Hayden Parker, Phil Burleigh, Jason Emery, Michael Little, Rikiya Matsuda, Ryoto Nakamura, Lomano Lemeki, Rene Ranger, Gerhard van den Heever
BEST XV: Emery, Lemeki, Nakamura, Little, Ranger, Parker, Tanaka, Leitch, Labuschagne, Tui, Hattingh, Himeno, van Wyk, Horie, Inagaki
VERDICT: New Sunwolves coach Tony Brown said his side is capable of pushing for the playoffs in 2019 after naming a settled and cosmopolitan 29-man initial squad.
Among the new faces are former Reds loose forward Hendrik Tui and former All Blacks outside back Rene Ranger, who has been plagued by injury in recent seasons.
“We want to play Japanese rugby, which is an expansive style with a lot of skill and speed, and which is based around unstructured rugby,” Brown said.
“The players we have added are the right players to play our style of rugby and will add to our game, experience and leadership group.”
TITLE ODDS: $1001