15 Feb 2013

Crusaders favourites again for Super Rugby title

11:30 am on 15 February 2013

Super Rugby kicks off this weekend in Australia alone with Melbourne hosting the Western Force Friday night and the Brumbies at home to the Queensland Reds on Saturday.

The Chiefs are defending champions, but the bookmakers have made the seven-times champions Crusaders the title favourites.

The South Africa conference boasts a new team this year - the Southern Kings. But their title challenge is again likely to come from the Sharks, runners up for the fourth time last year, the Stormers and the Bulls.

The British and Irish Lions tour looms large over the competition in Australia, where the depth of the five teams will be sorely tested.

Warren Gatland's team arrive in Australia in early June for a five-week tour that includes matches against all five Super Rugby sides and three tests against the Wallabies.