18 Jun 2011

Stars play final Super Rugby games

5:18 pm on 18 June 2011

The final games of the Super Rugby regular season are swansongs for a number of top international players as well as farewells to favourite grounds for others.

The Chiefs start things off with All Blacks Mils Muliaina, Sitiveni Sivivatu and the five-Test hooker Aled de Malmanche playing their final Super games at Waikato Stadium against the Queensland Reds.

It's also the final game in charge for coach Ian Foster after eight years and the last Chiefs game for five eighths Mike Delany, utility Dwayne Sweeney and prop Ben May - while Stephen Donald's rumoured to be heading north to play for English club Bath.

Delany and Sweeney join Muliaina in Japanese rugby, May's off to the Hurricanes and de Malmanche and Sivivatu are heading to France.

The Hurricanes welcome the Crusaders in Wellington in Saturday night's second game, the Canes also farewelling more internationals with Neemia Tialata, Ma'a Nonu and Andrew Hore leaving the capital.

Top Springboks Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez and Bakkies Botha are likely to step out onto Pretoria's Loftus Versfeld stadium for the final time with their champion Bulls team overnight.

They're fighting it out for a finals place against the visiting Sharks.

Botha is off to French club Toulouse where he'll team up with Luke McAlister and company, while du Preez heads to Japan and Matfield's expected to retire after the World Cup.

On Friday night the Blues booked another home game at Eden Park after seeing off the Highlanders 33-16 - whether that's a playoff in a week or a semi-final in a fortnight will be decided by tonight's results.

If the Crusaders lose and the Stormers fail to beat the Cheetahs and neither side scores a bonus point then the Blues will finish second, but it's far more likely they'll be playing next weekend in Auckland again and the Crusaders will be having a week off.

Nothing less than a win will do for the New South Wales Waratahs over the ACT Brumbies in the night game in Sydney.