Super Rugby AU Qualifier Final & Aotearoa R10: Line-ups, odds, analysis

There is one round to go of Super Rugby Aotearoa but for the second season in a row the competition is lacking a touch of mystery with this weekend's final round irrelevant.

The Blues' inability to earn a bonus point last Sunday against the Crusaders, who locked up the home final with a commanding win, ensured the Chiefs will travel to Christchurch on Saturday week -- no matter the results of this weekend's games.

Meanwhile in Australia, the finals are already here.

Read on as we bring you the latest line-ups, team news, odds and analysis for the three fixtures this weekend.


Saturday, May 1

Brumbies vs. Western Force, GIO Stadium, Canberra 7.45pm [AEST]

Brumbies: Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Tom Wright, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Pete Samu, Rory Scot, Rob Valetini, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa (capt), Folau Fainga'a, James Slipper.

Replacements: Lachlan Lonergan, Scott Sio, Tom Ross, Nick Frost, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Reesjan Pasitoa, Mack Hansen.

Force: Jake Strachan, Toni Pulu, Richard Kahui, Kyle Godwin (capt), Jordan Olowofela, Domingo Miotti, Tomas Cubelli, Brynard Stander, Kane Koteka, Fergus Lee-Warner, Sitaleki Timani, Jeremy Thrush, Santiago Medrano, Feleti Kaitu'u, Tom Robertson.

Replacements: Andrew Ready, Angus Wagner, Greg Holmes, Ryan McCauley, Tim Anstee, Ian Prior, Henry Taefu, Jack McGregor

Odds []: Brumbies $1.16 [-15.5 $1.90]; Force $5.20 [+15.5 $1.90]

Verdict: The Force stunned the Reds last weekend to book their place in their first finals appearance, but a face-off against the Brumbies may be a hurdle they can't overcome. The loss of Tevita Kuridrani comes as a massive blow for the side who will be forced to take down last year's champions if they're to reach the Super Rugby AU final. Richard Kahui has been moved into outside centre to fill the gap, while eyes will be on Jake Strachan as he makes his first start for the Force. The Brumbies, meanwhile, have named one of their strongest sides with an all-Wallabies front row, including Scott Sio on the bench, and an irrepressible backline that looks threatening from anywhere on the park. It's sure to be a close encounter in Canberra, but expect the Brumbies to be too strong. Tip: Brumbies by 10.


Friday, April 30

Hurricanes vs. Highlanders, Sky Stadium, Wellington, 5.05pm [AEST]

Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea, Billy Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Salesi Rayasi, Luke Campbell; Devan Flanders, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsip, Scott Scrafton, James Blackwell, Tryel Lomax, Dane Coles, Xavier Numia.

Replacements: Asafo Aumua, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Isaia Walker-Leaware, Brayden Iose, Cam Roigrad, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Pepesana Patafilo.

Highlanders: Josh Ioane, Sam Gilbert, Patelesio Tomkinson, Scott Gregory, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith (cc); Kazuki Himeno, Shannon Frizell, Billy Harmon, Josh Dickson, Bryn Evans, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon (cc), Ethan de Groot.

Replacements: Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone, Josh Hohneck, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Hugh Renton, Kayne Hammington, Michael Collins, James Lentjes.

Odds: [] Hurricanes $1.65 [-3.5 $1.90]; Highlanders $2.25 [+3.5 $1.90]

Verdict: There's nothing at stake but pride for both sides this week with the two finals places already locked up, but the Hurricanes will take heart with the return of Julian Savea to the starting line-up. It's sure to be a tough contest in Wellington, but expect the Hurricanes to come out on top. Tip: Hurricanes by 5

Saturday, May 1

Blues vs. Chiefs, Eden Park, Auckland, 5:05pm [AEST]

Blues: Zarn Sullivan, Bryce Heem, Rieko Ioane, Tanielu Tele'a, Caleb Clarke, Otere Black, Finlay Christie, Hoskins Sotutu, Adrian Choat, Tom Robinson, Sam Darry, Gerard Cowley-Tuiti, Nepo Laulala, Kurt Eklund, Karl Tu'inukuafe

Replacements: Sione Vikena, Ofa Tuungafasi, Marcel Renata, Josh Goodhue, Akira Ioane, Sam Nock, Harry Plummer, AJ Lam

Chiefs: Kaleb Trask, Bailyn Sullivan, Sean Wainui (c), Rameka Poihipi, Shaun Stevenson, Bryn Gatland, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Pita Gus Sowakula, Zane Kapeli, Viliami Taulani, Josh Lord, Samipeni Finau, Sione Mafileo, Bradley Slater, Ollie Norris

Replacements: Nathan Harris, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Joe Apikotoa, Liam Messam, Tom Florence, Xavier Roe, Rivez Reihana, Gideon Wrampling.

Odds: [] Blues $1.14 [-15.5 $1.85]; Chiefs $5.80 [+15.5 $1.95]

Verdict: Knocked out of the finals, the Blues will be hoping to end their Aotearoa season on a high, especially against the team that took their place in the final. Naming their strongest squad, the Blues look threatening, meanwhile the Chiefs have made wholesale changes naming six debutants for the regular season clash. While the Chiefs will put up a fight, their line-up proves they've already moved on to their finals appearance. Tip: Blues by 12

Bye: Crusaders