Rugby-Super Rugby Pacific 2024: Team by Team

By Thomson Reuters Feb 21, 2024 | 12:35 AM

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Team-by-team preview of the new season of Super Rugby Pacific, which kicks off on Friday. (Listed in order of last season’s finish on regular season standings):


Best finish: Champions – 2012, 2013

Last year: Final (15-2)

Coach: Clayton McMillan

Captain: Luke Jacobson

With Damian McKenzie and Shaun Stevenson leading a backline that ran rampant and a teak tough pack, the Chiefs were the best team in the competition last year until they ran into the Crusaders in the final. Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick and Brad Weber are among the players who have gone but plenty of quality remains in Hamilton.


Best finish: Champions (14) – 1998-2000, 2002, 2005-6, 2008,2017-2019, 2020-21 (Aotearoa), 2022, 2023

Last year: Champions (13-4)

Coach: Rob Penney

Captain: Scott Barrett

The loss of coach Scott Robertson to the All Blacks, Richie Mo’unga to Japan and Will Jordan to injury would test any team but the Christchurch-based Crusaders have faith in their winning culture and seemingly endless supply of young talent. Powerful centre Levi Aumua joins in pursuit of his All Blacks dream.


Best finish: Champions (4) – 1996, 1997, 2003, 2021 (TransTasman)

Last year: Semi-finals (11-5)

Coach: Vern Cotter

Captain: Patrick Tuipulotu

Blues have been there or thereabouts for the last few seasons and have turned to former Scotland coach Cotter to keep them up there. Beauden Barrett’s absence on sabbatical gives the exciting Stephen Perofeta the chance to press his test ambitions at flyhalf.


Best finish: Champions – 2001, 2004

Last year: Semi-finals (11-5)

Coach: Stephen Larkham

Captains: Allan Alaalatoa

The standard bearers for Australian rugby in the competition for the last few years, the Canberra-based outfit have kept largely intact the squad that was in the hunt for a spot in last year’s title-decider until the last two minutes of their semi-final.


Best finish: Champions – 2016

Last year: Quarter-finals (9-6)

Coach: Clark Laidlaw

Captain: Brad Shields

With totemic number eight Ardie Savea absent on sabbatical, new coach Laidlaw has turned to the returning England loose forward Shields to lead the team. TJ Perenara is fit again to tag-team with Cam Roigard at scrumhalf and Jordie Barrett remains a world class operator in the backline.


Best finish: Champions – 2014

Last year: Quarter-finals (6-9)

Coach: Darren Coleman

Captain: Jake Gordon

After their turnaround season of 2022, the Waratahs stalled last year and need to show some improvement if Coleman is to stay on as coach beyond the end of the season. Despite a tough start to their schedule, there is quality enough in Sydney to do that if their top players remain fit.


Best finish: Seventh – 2023

Last year: Quarter-finals (6-9)

Coach: Mick Byrne

Captain: Meli Derenalagi

The Drua have a settled, tightly-knit squad and will be looking to kick on from last season’s impressive run to the playoffs. To do that they will need to start performing as well on the road as they do at home.


Best finish: Champions – 2011

Last year: Quarter-finals (5-10)

Coach: Les Kiss

Co-captains: Tate McDermott, Liam Wright

The Reds had an impressive victory over the Waratahs in pre-season under new coach Kiss and, with the addition of former All Blacks props Alex Hodgman and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen to their pack, will be aiming to challenge for Australian supremacy at least.


Best finish: Champions – 2015

Last year: Ninth (5-9)

Coach: Clarke Dermody

Captain: Billy Harmon

The weakest of the New Zealand teams for the last couple of seasons, the Highlanders will be hoping the return of former Japan coach Jamie Joseph as Head of Rugby can spark a return to the glory days of a decade ago even without Aaron Smith.


Best finish: 3rd (AU) – 2021

Last year: 10th (5-9)

Coach: Simon Cron

Captain: Jeremy Williams

The Perth-based outfit have a new halfback partnership in Wallabies Nic White and Ben Donaldson and could surprise a few people in the highly-regarded Cron’s second year in charge.


Best finish: 3rd (AU) – 2020

Last year: 11th (4-10)

Coach: Kevin Foote

Captain: Rob Leota

The Rebels are guaranteed to finish the season despite being in administration. On the field, the addition of Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou to an already strong group gives them a chance of making a big impression in what is probably their last season.


Best finish: 12th – 2022, 2023

Last year: 12th (1-13)

Coach: Tana Umaga

Captain: James Lay

The Auckland-based side, who have managed three wins in two seasons, will be looking for better returns under new coach Umaga. Former All Blacks winger Julian Savea was one of a raft new recruits and joins a hugely experienced but rapidly ageing core.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)