Super Rugby Pacific 2024: Round 2 line-ups verdicts odds

Why Queensland Reds' expectations should be high (2:40)

They have a new coach in Les Kiss, but Queensland Reds really need to step up regardless with a stable group of players who have underperformed as a unit, the ESPN Scrum Reset crew agree. (2:40)

Super Rugby Pacific kicked off with both some tight games and blowout results, but now all eyes turn to Melbourne for the third edition of Super Round!

While things off the field are looking grim for the Rebels, there promises to be plenty of fireworks on the field when all 12 teams descend on AAMI Park.

Check out all the team lists, key ins and outs, odds and our tips below.

Jump ahead to a particular game by clicking on the links below.

Highlanders vs. Blues | Rebels vs. Force | Moana vs. Drua | Crusaders vs. Waratahs | Chiefs vs. Brumbies | Hurricanes vs. Reds

Friday, March 1

Highlanders vs. Blues, AAMI Park, Melbourne, 5:05pm [AEDT]

Highlanders: Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Tanielu Tele'a, Sam Gilbert, Jona Nareki, Rhys Patchell, Folau Fakatava; Hugh Renton, Billy Harmon, Sean Withy, Max Hicks, Pari Pari Parkinson, Jermaine Ainsley, Henry Bell, Ethan de Groot.

Replacements: Ricky Jackson, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Saula Ma'u, Fabian Holland, Nikora Broughton, Nathan Hastie, Ajay Faleafaga, Jonah Lowe

Blues: Zarn Sullivan, Mark Tele'a, AJ Lam, Bryce Heem, Caleb Clarke, Stephen Perofeta, Taufa Funaki; Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papali'i, Akira Ioane, Sam Darry, Laghlan McWhannell, Marcel Renata, Ricky Riccitelli, Ofa Tu'ungafasi.

Replacements: Soane Vikena, Joshua Fusitu'a, Angus Ta'avao, Josh Beehre, Adrian Choat, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, Cole Forbes.

Odds [tab.com.au]: Highlanders $4.40, +12.5 $1.85; Blues $1.20, -12.5 $1.97

Verdict: The Highlanders were one of the standout performers from week one, accounting for a vastly improved Moana Pasifika outfit under Tana Umaga. Fullback recruit Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens was the star of the show and he gets the chance to show his wares against his former club this weekend; Welsh fly-half Rhys Patchell also impressed in Dunedin, the No. 10 throwing a beautiful cut-out pass for a key scores after halftime. The Highlanders are boosted by the return of All Blacks prop Ethan de Groot on Friday night as well. The Blues, meanwhile, were far too strong for the Fijian Drua, flexing their muscle at scrum time and playing the windy conditions better than their opponents. Hoskins Sotutu was back to his best in that fixture, and he will be happy to have the power of Akira Ioane back alongside him after he missed Round 1. Sadly, there is no Rieko Ioane nor Finlay Christie for the Blues, with All Blacks rest weeks already coming into play. This game certainly looks tougher than it did a week ago, but the Blues just have that little more firepower up front and out wide.

Tip: Blues by 14.


Rebels vs. Force, AAMI Park, Melbourne 7:35pm [AEDT]

Rebels: Andrew Kellaway, Lachie Anderson, Matt Proctor, David Feliuai, Filipo Daugunu, Carter Gordon, James Tuttle; Rob Leota, Brad Wilkin, Josh Kemeny, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Josh Canham, Taniela Tupou, Alex Mafi, Matt Gibbon.

Replacements: Jordan Uelese, Isaac Kailea, Sam Talakai, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Ryan Louwrens, Jake Strachan, Nick Jooste

Force: Max Burey, Harry Potter, Sam Spinhk, Hamish Stewart, Chase Tiatia, Ben Donaldson, Nic White; Will Harris, Carlo Tizzano, Michael Wells, Thomas Franklin, Jeremy Williams, Santiago Medrano, Tom Horton, Ryan Coxon.

Replacements: Feleti Kaitu'u, Charlie Hancock, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Tim Anstee, Lopeti Faifua, Ollie Callan, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, George Poolman

Odds: [tab.com.au] Rebels $1.45, -5.5; Force $2.70, +5.5 $1.95

Verdict: It is only Round 2, but already this feels like a must-win game for both teams. The Rebels were awful last week against the Brumbies and questions are already being raised about the team's capacity to compete with everything that is going on off the field. The Force, at least showed some fight in the second-half but they were so completely outclassed in the first 40 that it's clear coach Simon Cron has a heap of work still to do with this team. Melbourne will be boosted by Taniela Tupou's inclusion in the run-on side after coming off the bench, while one-Test All Blacks centre Matt Proctor is another big addition in what will be his first match for the franchise. Look for Carter Gordon to bounce back after a forgettable first outing for 2024, while Jeremy Williams plays his first game for the Force since he was announced as skipper. A tight contest looms, but the Rebels appear to have just that little bit more attack in their game at this point, providing they cut out a lot of the self-inflicted errors of last week.

Tip: Rebels by 5.

Saturday, March 2

Moana Pasifika vs. Fijian Drua, AAMI Park, Melbourne, 5:00pm [AEDT]

Moana: Danny Toala, Nigel Ah Wong, Henry Taefu, Julian Savea, Viliami Fine, William Havili, Ereatara Enari; Lotu Inisi, Sione Havili Talitui, Jacob Norris, Allan Craig, Tom Savage, Sione Mafileo, Sama Malolo, Abraham Pole.

Replacements: Samiuela Moli, Sateka Latu, Sekope Kepu, Ola Tauelangi, Irie Papuni, Aiesa Halo, Christian Lealiifano, Kyren Taumoefolau.

Drua: Isikeli Rabitu, Epeli Mom, Iosefo Masi, Apisalome Vota, Selestino Ravutaumada, Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, Frank Lomani; Meli Derenalagi, Ella Canakaivata, Etonia Waqa, Isoa Nasilasila, Mesake Vocevoce, Mesake Doge, Tevita Ikanivere, Livai Natavee

Replacements: Mesulame Dolokoto, Haereiti Hetet, Jone Koroiduadua, Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, Vilive Miramira, Simione Kuruvoli, Kemu Valetini, Junior Ratuva

Odds: [tab.com.au] Moana $2.80, +6.5 $1.90; Drua $1.42, -6.5 $1.90

Verdict: The tournament's expansion franchises of 2022 open Super Round's day 2 action and supporters would be wise to make sure they get to AAMI Park on time to take in this fixture. Moana, as mentioned above, looked like an entirely new, infinitely more cohesive outfit under Tana Umaga last week, and created all sorts of problems for the Highlanders. Had it not been for some desperate defence and key turnovers in the backfield, Moana may well have been coming away with a first-up win. The Drua, meanwhile, paid the price for not striking early against the Blues when they strung together 24 phases of sustained attack, but could no breach their hosts defensive wall. But the Fijians will be better for the hit out and showed glimpses of what they can do in attack, with Iosefo Masi a constant threat with ball in hand; Tevita Ikanivere also picked up from where he left off in a superb 2023 season. These two teams have a habit of playing out tight fixtures and that looms again here. Still, if the game opens up late through fatigue, it will be the Fijians who hold the edge.

Tip: Drua by 3

Crusaders vs. Waratahs, AAMI Park, Melbourne, 7:35pm [AEDT]

Crusaders: Chay Fihaki, Sevu Reece, Levi Aumua, David Havili, Macca Springer, Taha Kemara, Noah Hotham; Cullen Grace, Tom Christie, Dominic Gardiner, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett , Fletcher Newell, George Bell, George Bower.

Replacements: Quentin MacDonald, Joe Moody, Owen Franks, Jamie Hannah, Christian Lio-Willie, Mitchell Drummond, Ryan Crotty, Dallas McLeod.

Waratahs: Max Jorgensen, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Harry Wilson, Joey Walton, Dylan Pietsch, Tane Edmed, Jake Gordon; Langi Gleeson, Charlie Gamble, Fergus Lee-Warner, Hugh Sinclair, Jed Holloway, Harry Johnson-Homes, Mahe Vailanu, Angus Bell.

Replacements: Julian Heaven, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Daniel Botha, Miles Amatosero, Ned Hanigan, Teddy Wilson Mosese Tuipulotu, Triston Reilly

Odds: [tab.com.au] Crusaders $1.06, -19.5 $1.95; Waratahs $8.50, +19.5 $1.85

Verdict: The Crusaders dispelled any doubts they would fall away dramatically in the post-Scott Robertson era, turning in a gutsy fightback against the Chiefs that only just saw them denied by two late penalties. Skipper Scott Barrett was magnificent while back-rowers Cullen Grace and Tom Christie, and fullback Chay Fihaki also caught the eye. The red-and-blacks did see All Blacks prop Tamaiti Williams go down with injury after a 30-metre sprint in open field, and he is out this week, with Fletcher Newell a more than adequate replacement at tighthead prop. Young No. 10 Taha Kemara is also into the starting line-up in place of the injured Rivez Reihana. The Waratahs, meanwhile, were outclassed by an impressive Reds outfit, albeit after a controversial penalty try and sin-binning of Max Jorgensen. The second-year Tahs fullback will be eager to make up for that error, but the Waratahs have been further affected by injury with Izaia Perese joining Lalakai Foketi on the sidelines, meaning there is a new centre pairing of Joey Walton and Harry Wilson, something the Crusaders David Havili and recruit Levi Aumua will likely exploit. NSW have a reasonable record against the Crusaders on Australian soil, but they will need to be significantly better than they were in Brisbane to have any hope of winning this one.

Tip: Crusaders by 14.

Sunday, March 3

Chiefs vs. Brumbies, AAMI Park, Melbourne, 2:00pm [AEDT]

Chiefs: Shaun Stevenson, Liam Coombes-Fabling, Anton Lienert-Brown, Rameka Poihipi, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Damian McKenzie, Xavier Roe; Luke Jacobson, Kaylum Boshier, Samipeni Finau, Tupou Vaa'i, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, George Dyer, Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris.

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Jared Proffit, Reuben O'Neill, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Simon Parker, Cortez Ratima, Josh Ioane, Daniel Rona.

Brumbies: Tom Wright, Andy Muirhead, Len Ikitau, Ollie Sapsford, Corey Toole, Noah Lolesio, Ryan Lonergan, Charlie Cale, Luke Reimer, Rob Valetini, Tom Hooper, Nick Frost, Sosefo Kautai, Lachlan Lonergan, James Slipper.

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Jared Proffit, Reuben O'Neill, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Simon Parker, Cortez Ratima, Josh Ioane, Daniel Rona.

Odds: [tab.com.au] Chiefs $1.30, -9.5 $1.95; Brumbies $3.40, +9.5 $1.85

Verdict: Probably the game of the weekend, and a key indicator trans-Tasman battles for the season ahead [if Australia can improve on last year's six, anyway], the Brumbies will be looking for a major Kiwi scalp on this weekend for the second straight year. Last year it was the Blues, but this year the Chiefs stand in their way, looking to build early season momentum just as they did in 2023. Damian McKenzie opened up the Crusaders before he was replaced with some rib soreness last week, but it wasn't a happy return for Quinn Tupaea who was subbed off with concussion on his return. His place is taken by Rameka Poihipi while Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Ollie Norris and George Dyer are all promoted to the starting side up front. The Brumbies, meanwhile, are unchanged from the team that held the Rebels scoreless, and ran in 30 points of their own, in what was a typically ruthless performance from the ACT outfit. They will know their opposition this week represents a whole new challenge, but they have the ability to upset the bookmakers here and come away with what may become a vital win by the end of the year.

Tip: Brumbies by 2.

Hurricanes vs. Queensland Reds, AAMI Park, 4:35pm [AEDT]

Hurricanes: Ruben Love, Josh Moorby, Billy Proctor, Jordie Barrett, Kini Naholo, Brett Cameron, Cam Roigard; Brayden Iose, Peter Lakai, TK Howden, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Caleb Delany, Tyrel Lomax, Asafo Aumua, Xavier Numia.

Replacements: James O'Reilly, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Pasilio Tosi, Justin Sangster, Veveni Lasaqa, Jordi Viljoen, Riley Higgins, Salesi Rayasi.

Reds: Jordan Petaia, Suliasi Vunivali, Josh Flook, Hunter Paisami, Jock Campbell, Tom Lynagh, Tate McDermott; Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Liam Wright, Ryan Smith, Seru Uru, Zane Nonggorr, Matt Faessler, Alex Hodgman.

Replacements: Josh Nasser, Peni Ravai, Sef Fa'agase, Cormac Daly, John Bryant, Kalani Thomas, Harry McLaughlin-Phillips Mac Grealy

Odds: [tab.com.au] Hurricanes $1.28, -10.5 $1.95; Reds $3.60, +10.5 $1.87

Verdict: Two of Round 1's strongest performers close out Super Round in what promises to be a worthy conclusion to the weekend in Melbourne. The Reds showed more than enough against the Waratahs to suggest they will play an entirely different game under Les Kiss, that they have the style and execution to match the grit that was a hallmark of their efforts under Brad Thorn. World Cup Wallabies Fraser McReight, Tate McDermott and Jordan Petaia all hit the ground running, while Harry Wilson, Liam Wright and Hunter Paisami also showed the benefits of an extended preseason. Jock Campbell is the only change to the Queensland outfit this week, but the Hurricanes, who blew the Force off the paddock in the first 40 in Perth, have brought in Cam Roigard, Tyrel Lomax, TK Howden and Veveni Lasaqa into the run-on side. There is extra motivation for the Canes this week with Jordie Barrett set to play his 100th game for the franchise. If the Reds are serious about improving on last year's eighth finish, this is the kind of game they need to win. They will need to go up a level after last week, particularly at the breakdown, where the Canes repeatedly disrupted the Force after holding firm in defence. At this early stage of their development under Kiss, a win might just be beyond the Reds here.

Tip: Hurricanes by 10.