21 Jan 2020

Super Rugby kicks off in January summer heat

From Checkpoint, 5:54 pm on 21 January 2020

The baking January sun tends to lend itself more to cricket than rugby, but Super Rugby is already gearing up for kick-off.

The first games will take place next Friday, the earliest they've ever been held in the new year.

Next Friday the Brumbies will take on the Reds in Canberra, while the Blues will play the Chiefs at Eden Park.

The championship was launched in Auckland today with players from the Blues, Hurricanes, Highlanders, Crusaders and Chiefs joining local school kids for a game of RipRugby.

Emoni Narawa is preparing for his first season with Blues and said training had been heating up during the hot summer days.

"Making it a bit more tough in training, running around, sweating heaps."

Hurricane's player Ardie Savea is still recovering from a knee injury he suffered at the rugby world cup but watched today's games from the sidelines.

He said he was recovering well and the warm weather hadn't been having too much of an impact on trainings in the capital.

"It's been pretty cold in Wellington eh, like we haven't had no summer.

"But I don't think it's changed anything in terms of mindset in the team, it's just kind of crammed all our preseason quite tight so we're trying to get a lot of things done in a short amount of time.."

Crusaders player George Bridge said a summer start to the season was good news for the game.

"I think it'll make it funner... the earlier start, the quicker pitches, drier ball, makes our game plan a bit more free-flowing and allows us to throw the ball around."

Super Rugby referee Brendon Pickerill said work was underway to make sure this season was safer for players, thanks to the launch of a high tackle review system.

"There's somebody watching all the tackles in the game, and then after the game if there's been some tackles where the players deemed to have poor tackling technique, dangerous tackling technique, then he'll be notified after the game through his club, with perhaps some mesaures of how he could improve."

The Super Rugby rounds will run until the end of May, with the qualifiers and final matches due to take place in June.