Super Rugby: Crusaders vs Chiefs Preview

Rugby player dives over the line to score a try.

The Kiwi and Aussie sides kick off their Super Rugby campaigns this weekend and the pick of the bunch sees the defending champions the Crusaders welcome the Chiefs to AMI Stadium on Saturday the 24th of February.

Bet now on the latest rugby event

Crusaders v Chiefs
24 February 08h35
AMI Stadium

To Win ( 80 mins)Crusaders 7/20
Draw 25/1
Chiefs 2/1

Handicap Crusaders (-7.5) 9/10
Chiefs  (+7.5) 9/10

The Saders, unbeaten in all but one of their games in 2017, will be looking for a record-extending ninth title this season, while the men from Waikato will seek a bright start to life without influential former coach Dave Rennie.

Weren't the Crusaders spectacular last year? Their powerful brand of winning rugby powered them to 17 wins in 18 matches and included a dramatic Grand Final win over the Lions in Johannesburg. One gets the feeling that, after so many near-misses, this Saders side has finally banished the monkey off its back and are again set to stage real assaults on the titles in the years ahead.

Playing the Chiefs first up may just be the challenge this group of players need to kick-start their season. Any complacency will be snuffed out soon enough by the visitors, and so the Saders can ill-afford one of their classic slow season starts. On the basis of the Christchurch side's 26-42 preseason loss to the Highlanders a week ago, they still have much work to do, although preseason games are never really a true measure of where sides stand.

Following the departure of Rennie from the Chiefs fold, the Crusaders’ opponents this week represent a somewhat unknown quantity. That said, the Saders won’t shy too far away from what worked for them last season and will be confident of outdoing a team in transition on Saturday.

Having previously coached the Hurricanes to a Super Rugby final in 2006 and, more recently, the Maori All Blacks, Colin Cooper isn’t exactly new to the white-hot pressures that coaching in New Zealand brings. The 50-year-old has been tasked with picking up where Rennie left off in Waikato, and there really does seem to be a fresh hope in that part of Kiwiland that he can guide them to a new era of unprecedented success. His is a style of coaching that will suit the Chiefs well, and there is every reason to believe that he can make a splash at the franchise in the immediate future.

He will, unfortunately, have to get his new era underway without the services of the ever-influential Aaron Cruden, who ended his six-year association with the side at the end of last season. Therefore, the likes of experienced co-captains Sam Cane and Charlie Ngata will have an even greater role to play in the weeks ahead and indeed this weekend against the Crusaders.

This fixture may have come too early for a side that is not yet accustomed to Cooper’s coaching style, but one never can tell; just look at the Crusaders last season. They may just surprise everyone and blow the 2018 champs out of the water, though common sense does dictate otherwise.

Verdict: Crusaders (-7.5) 9/10
Nothing too fancy here. I’m backing the Crusaders to pick where they left off last season and get the defence to their title underway in the best possible fashion at home.

Written by Shaun Goosen for

Bet on this match now at Hollywoodbets! Haven’t got an account? Open one here!

Bet now on the latest rugby event

YesWena 20:29 - Click Here - Win your share of R2 Million in Cash Prizes. Tune into ETV tn January 2018.