Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Will Genia will be one of the Queensland Reds players hoping to impress Australia selectors as the British and Irish Lions tour approaches.
Will Genia will be one of the Queensland Reds players hoping to impress Australia selectors as the British and Irish Lions tour approaches.

As Lions tour nears players see a chance to impress in Super 15 Rugby

Australian players are finding extra motivation at the start of the Super Rugby season with the looming selections for the British and Irish Lions tour.

The 2013 Super 15 Rugby season kicks off this weekend with two all-Australian ties as players seek to impress selectors ahead of the looming British and Irish Lions tour Down Under.

The Lions tour - held every four years to either Australia, New Zealand or South Africa - has forced a revamp of fixtures to give Australian teams extended time off from Super Rugby commitments in June and July.

And several star names will be missing from the competition, including talismanic All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, who is taking an extended break from rugby, and ex-All Black Sonny Bill Williams, who has jumped ship to Rugby league.

New Zealand and South African franchises consistently dominate the Super play-offs, but Australia coach Robbie Deans said the impact of the Lions' tour cannot be underestimated as a motivating factor for the Australian sides.

"I've got no doubt there will be [Australian] players who will emerge this year. Some will get an opportunity who wouldn't ordinarily have got an opportunity," he said.

The Queensland Reds were Australia's only representatives in the top six last year, when New Zealand outfit Waikato Chiefs were crowned champions after a crushing win against South Africa's Sharks. But while the Australians have the Lions factor to drive them and the Reds, Brumbies and NSW Waratahs have the firepower to beat any team, picking the champions remains a notoriously inexact science.

New Zealand and South Africa have seven teams with a realistic chance of making the top six.

From the New Zealand conference the Chiefs, seven-times champions Canterbury Crusaders, Wellington Hurricanes and Otago Highlanders are all likely to challenge, along with South Africa's Northern Bulls, Sharks and Western Stormers.

The Reds match-up with two-time champions the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday is the marquee match of a quiet opening weekend.

The only other match this weekend sees the Melbourne Rebels take on Western Force on Friday. The Rebels have been boosted by news their main off-season signing, former Red backrower Scott Higginbotham, has recovered from a shoulder injury and will start.

Rebels hooker Shota Horie is poised to make history as the first Japanese player to appear in a Super Rugby match while Japan teammate Fumiaki Tanaka could turn out next week for the Otago Highlanders.

In round two next week, the Highlanders open against the Chiefs on the same evening as the Bulls and Stormers kick off the season for the South African conference.

The Southern Kings, who have replaced the Golden Lions, make their debut against the Western Force on February 23.

The Crusaders do not play until March 1.

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Al Ahli's Ismail Al Hammadi, left, battles for the ball during the Arabian Gulf Cup final between against Al Jazira at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on April 19, 2014. Al Hammadi hit the game-winner in the 81st minute for Ahli. Al Ittihad

Al Ahli maintain course for domestic treble with victory over Al Jazira in Arabian Gulf Cup

Al Ahli maintained their hopes of a domestic treble with a superb comeback victory against Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf Cup final on Saturday night.

 Alex Kacaniklic, left, of Fulham tackles Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur during their Premier League match at White Hart Lane on April 19, 2014, in London, England. Clive Rose / Getty Images

Tottenham keep pace in chase for European places with victory over Fulham

Swansea appear to be safe after rallying past Newcastle while Crystal Palace continue their winning streak

 On a track described as a ‘tyre-killer’ in Shanghai, Lewis Hamilton went untested on his way to a 34th pole – the most by a British driver – yesterday. Carlos Barria / Reuters

Hamilton has sympathy for fans hung out to dry with wet tyre rules

The Briton takes his career's 34th pole - the most by a British driver - but sympathises it was not ideal for the ticket-paying public.

 Yuzvendra Chahal, centre, and the Royal Challengers Bangalore teammates celebrate after the bowlers set up an easy win over Mumbai Indians. Pawan Singh / The National

Bowlers set up Bangalore as Patel stand tall over Mumbai

Mumbai bowlers gave early hope but Parthiv Patel and AB de Villiers' unbeaten stand of 99 ensures second defeat for the men in blue in Dubai.

 Roelof Kotzee is leading UAE to unchartered territory. Sarah Dea / The National

UAE step into the unknown ahead of Asian Five Nations

Performance manager Roelof Kotze will give 12 players their first experience of international rugby, but there is also minimal information on Singapore ahead of first Test in Dubai on Wednesday, reports Paul Radley.

 Novak Djokovic of Serbia winces in pain during his semi-final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 19, 2014. Federer prevailed to set up an all-Swiss final with Stanislas Wawrinka. SEBASTIEN NOGIER / EPA

Ailing Djokovic will ‘just rest now’ while Nadal not pressing the panic button

Djokovic says only rest will help is injured right wrist after he falls to Roger Federer on Saturday, and Nadal suffers just his third career defeat in Monte Carlo when he slumped to a shock 7-6, 6-4 quarter-final loss to compatriot Ferrer on Friday.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National