After a topsy-turvy 2020 season, which saw the abandonment of regular Super Rugby fixtures and the development of the inaugural Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, the year is finally coming to a close. But that doesn't mean preparations for season 2021 haven't already begun.
Following the success of Super Rugby Aotearoa, the competition will be revisited again in 2021 with all five New Zealand Super Rugby sides to face off in a 10 round season with the introduction of a Final. We will also see the introduction of a new trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition that will see all five New Zealand sides take on all five Australian Super Rugby sides in a competition to be played out following Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU.
All five New Zealand Super squads are now locked in, check out the lists below.
After years of wallowing at the bottom of New Zealand's Super Rugby conference, 2020 saw the Blues make a steep rise and come all so close to toppling the Crusaders off the top of their perch. Heading into the 2021, they again remain real contenders for the title and ending the Crusaders title run.
Ahead of 2021, they've added even further depth to their squad with the inclusion of several young players who hit their straps in the Mitre 10 cup as well as the earlier signings of All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala and flanker Dillon Hunt.
They'll of course be without Beauden Barrett, but Otere Black, Stephen Perofeta and Harry Plummer have proven they're up to the task of leading the pack.
Even without Barrett, the Blues have 12 current or former All Blacks in the side, including rookie Caleb Clarke who made headlines against the Wallabies just weeks ago.
Hookers: Ray Niuia, James Parsons, Soane Vikena.
Props: Alex Hodgman, Nepo Laulala, James Lay, Marcel Renata, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi.
Locks: Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Sam Darry, Josh Goodhue, Jacob Pierce, Patrick Tuipulotu.
Loose forwards: Blake Gibson, Dillon Hunt, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Taine Plumtree, Tom Robinson, Hoskins Sotutu.
Halfbacks: Finlay Christie, Sam Nock, Jonathan Ruru.
Flyhalves: Otere Black, Stephen Perofeta, Harry Plummer.
Centres: TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane, Tanielu Tele'a.
Outside backs: Caleb Clarke, AJ Lam, Jone Macilai-Tori, Emoni Narawa, Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, Zarn Sullivan, Mark Telea.
Departures: Beauden Barrett, Matt Duffie, Jack Heighton, Jordan Hyland, Joe Marchant, Jared Page, Daniel Carter, Aaron Carroll, Kurt Eklund, Tony Lamborn, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa, James Tucker, Joe Walsh.
2020 was a horror year for the Chiefs after they finished the season winless. They'll be hoping to put the year far behind them in 2021 and are already on the path with the signings of Hurricanes pair Jonah Lowe and Chase Tiatia to bolster their backline.
The lose of Aaron Cruden will be huge for the side, but depth in Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and Brad Weber should see them through, while the signings of Bryn Gatland and Kaleb Trask should give them some excitement in the halves.
All up the Chiefs have made six changes up front, including the signing of young All Blacks lock Tupou Vaa'i and Blues tighthead prop Sione Mafileo.
Hookers: Nathan Harris, Bradley Slater, Samisoni Taukei'aho.
Props: Sione Mafileo, Atu Moli, Ollie Norris, Reuben O'Neill, Aidan Ross, Angus Ta'avao.
Locks: Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Josh Lord, Laghlan McWhannell, Tupou Vaa'i.
Loose forwards: Kaylum Boshier, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Sam Cane, Pita Gus Sowakula, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Karpik, Simon Parker.
Halfbacks: Xavier Roe, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Brad Weber.
Flyhalves: Bryn Gatland, Rivez Reihana, Kaleb Trask.
Centres: Anton Lienert-Brown, Alex Nankivell, Bailyn Sullivan, Quinn Tupaea.
Outside backs: Jonah Lowe, Damian McKenzie, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Shaun Stevenson, Chase Tiatia, Sean Wainui.
Departures: Solomon Alaimalo, Leroy Carter, Aaron Cruden, Tiaan Falcon, Orbyn Leger, Tumua Manu, Sam McNicol, Lisati Milo-Harris, Kini Naholo, Michael Allardice, Tyler Ardron, Robb Cobb, Ryan Coxon, Ross Geldenhuys, Nepo Laulala, Donald Maka, Dylan Nel, James Thompson, Adam Thomson.
After four straight titles, the Crusaders head into 2021 as contenders yet again with an embarrassment of riches across the board. While they only lost six players from last year, they will be without Braydon Enor for the whole Super Rugby Aotearoa season and George Bridge for the first half through injury.
It's a big loss across the backline, but the Crusaders remain dangerous with Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue and David Havilli remaining alongside Richie Mo'unga and Bryn Hall.
Adding to their squad, Robertson has named four rookies, all of whom have come through the Crusaders academy. It's a testament to their program and means all four players have trained with the squad before.
Hookers: Codie Taylor, Andrew Makalio, Brodie McAlister
Props: Joe Moody, Michael Alaalatoa, George Bower, Oliver Jager, Tamaiti Williams, Isi Tu'ungafasi, Fletcher Newell
Locks: Scott Barrett (captain), Sam Whitelock, Mitchell Dunshea, Quinten Strange, Luke Romano
Loose forwards: Cullen Grace, Tom Christie, Ethan Blackadder, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Sione Havili, Tom Sanders
Halfbacks: Bryn Hall, Mitchell Drummond, Ere Enari
Flyhalves Richie Mo'unga, Brett Cameron, Fergus Burke
Centres: Jack Goodhue, Braydon Ennor, Dallas McLeod
Outside backs: Will Jordan, Sevu Reece, George Bridge, David Havili, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Manasa Mataele, Chay Fihaki, Isaiah Punivai
Departures: Fetuli Paea, Billy Harmon, Harry Allan, Inga Finau, Ethan Roots, Matt Todd.
Liam Squire's return to Dunedin is a huge win for a team that had only mixed results in 2020.
Ending his two-year stint in Japan early, Squire's return will bolster the side and add bruising force up front.
Squire's joined by Jermaine Ainsley, Solomon Alaimalo, Billy Harmon, Sam Gilbert, Japanese test star Kazuki Himeno and highly experienced prop Josh Hohneck.
Meanwhile the Highlanders backline will have plenty of punch with the return of Thomas Umaga-Jensen who's transformed himself into a 113kg midfield "best" according to Tony Brown.
Props: Daniel Lienert-Brown, Jeff Thwaites, Ayden Johnstone, Ethan De Groot, Jermaine Ainsley, Siate Tokolahi, Josh Hohneck
Hookers: Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Ricky Jackson
Locks: Pari Pari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Manaaki Selby-Rickit , Bryn Evans
Loose forwards: Shannon Frizell, Sione Misiloi, James Lentjes, Billy Harmon, Kazuki Himeno, Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, Teariki Ben- Nicholas, Liam Squire
Halfbacks: Aaron Smith, Kayne Hammington, Folau Fakatava
Flyhalves: Josh Ioane, Mitchell Hunt
Midfielders: Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Patelesio Tomkinson, Michael Collins, Fetuli Paea, Scott Gregory
Outside backs: Jona Nareki, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Vilimoni Koroi, Solomon Alaimalo, Sam Gilbert, Connor Garden-Bachop, Ngatungane Punivai
Departures: Dillon Hunt, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Zane Kapeli, Jesse Parete, Jeff Thwaites, Jack Whetton, Tima Fainga'anuku, Bryn Gatland, Kayne Hammington, Chris Kuridrani, Josh McKay, Tevita Nabura, Rob Thompson, Teihorangi Walden.
The Hurricanes have named five newcomers in their 38-man squad, but perhaps their most important was Luke Campbell, who has been brought into the side to fill the void that TJ Perenara left behind.
Perenara's decision to head overseas has left the Hurricanes light on experience in the half and the 25-year-old Campbell will have big shoes to fill.
Campbell joins returning halfbacks Jamie Booth and Jonathan Taumateine, but a broken leg will sideline Booth for at least the first round.
There will be plenty of fire power outwide with the return of former international Julian Savea, who joins All Blacks utility Jordie Barrett and returning wing Wes Goosen.
Props: Tevita Mafileo, Xavier Numia, Tyrel Lomax, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Alex Fidow, Fraser Armstrong.
Hookers: Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli, Asafo Aumua.
Locks: Isaia Walker-Leawere, Scott Scrafton, Kane Leaupepe, James Blackwell, Liam Mitchell.
Loose forwards: Ardie Savea, Brayden Iose, Devan Flanders, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Vaea Fifita, Reed Prinsep, Gareth Evans.
Halfbacks: Luke Campbell, Jamie Booth, Jonathan Taumateine.
Flyhalves: Simon Hickey, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ruben Love.
Centers: Peter Umaga-Jensen, Ngani Laumape, Vince Aso, Billy Proctor, Danny Toala.
Outside backs: Wes Goosen, Jordie Barrett, Salesi Rayasi, Julian Savea, Lolagi Visinia, Pepesana Patafilo.
Departures: TJ Perenara, Kane Le'aupepe, Ben May, Murphy Taramai, Ben Lam, Jonah Lowe, James Marshall, Fletcher Smith, Chase Tiatia, Kobus van Wyk.