SUPER Rugby resumes in Australia this week after a near four-month coronavirus hibernation with new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie watching closely as he ponders his first line-up.
Queensland Reds will kick off the domestic 10-round season against NSW Waratahs in Brisbane Friday, before the ACT Brumbies face the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra a day later.
Perth’s Western Force, who were axed from Super Rugby at the end of 2017, will make their return to top-flight competition against the Waratahs in Sydney in round two.
Officially named Super Rugby AU, the Australian domestic tournament is helping to fill the gap left when the 15-team southern hemisphere club competition was halted after seven rounds because of the pandemic in mid-March.
It mirrors New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa which began last month, and will similarly trial new rules including goal-line dropouts and a 10-minute golden point period if matches are tied.
Former Glasgow coach Rennie will be keeping an eye on proceedings from home in his native New Zealand, where he has been isolating.
With a host of Wallabies calling it quits after last year’s World Cup, the door is open leading into what is expected to be a four-match Bledisloe Cup series against the All Blacks later in the year.