WATCH: A new era for Super Rugby

WATCH: A new era for Super Rugby

New teams, new venues and new faces – including some of the best young talent on offer in South Africa – promise to bring a new level of excitement to the 2016 edition of Vodacom Super Rugby.

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The Super Rugby season kicks off with matches in Auckland, Canberra and Bloemfontein on Friday.

All local teams will feature debutants, which will expose rugby fans to new faces and heroes as the tournament progresses.

The list of youngsters getting a first run at Vodacom Super Rugby level includes Junior Springboks such as Ox Nche, Malcolm Jaer, Jean-Luc du Preez, Hyron Andrews, JD Schickerling, Leolin Zas, Warrick Gelant, Jannes Kirsten, RG Snyman and Jason Jenkins.

The re-entry of the Southern Kings means that South Africa will have six teams in the tournament for the first time ever, with the two other new teams in the competition, the Sunwolves and Jaguares, facing South African opposition.

The Toyota Cheetahs will be the first of the six South African franchises to take to the field when they face the Jaguares from Argentina at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein at 7pm on Friday.

The Emirates Lions, meanwhile, will make history on Saturday morning (SA time) as the first team to play in Tokyo when they line up against Japanese debutantes, the Sunwolves, at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium at 6.15am.

The action continues late on Saturday afternoon with local derbies between the Southern Kings and Cell C Sharks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth at 3.05pm, and the DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls at DHL Newlands in Cape Town at 5.15pm.

In the other matches, the Blues host the defending champion Highlanders in Auckland in the opening match and the Brumbies take on the Hurricanes in Canberra on Friday morning, while the Crusaders go up against the Chiefs in Christchurch, the Waratahs meet the Reds in Sydney and the Force do battle with the Rebels in Perth on Saturday.

These matches will also feature a host of South Africans – Ross Geldenhuys (Highlanders), Reggie Goodes (Hurricanes), Riaan Viljoen (Sunwolves), Marcel Brache, Brynard Stander, Chris Heiberg and Peter Grant (all Western Force).

South Africa’s Super Rugby weekend teams:

Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies, Sergeal Petersen, Francois Venter (captain), William Small-Smith, Raymond Rhule, Fred Zeilinga, Shaun Venter, Niell Jordaan, Uzair Cassiem, Boom Prinsloo, Lodewyk de Jager, Carl Wegner, Maks van Dyk, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Charles Marais.

Replacements: Jacques du Toit, Ox Nche, Luan de Bruin, Reniel Hugo, Henco Venter, Paul Schoeman, Tian Meyer, Niel Marais.

Lions: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Howard Mnisi, Courtnal Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, Warren Whiteley (captain), Warwick Tecklenburg, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Andries Ferreira, Julian Redelinghuys, Robbie Coetzee, Ruan Dreyer.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Dylan Smith, Jacques van Rooyen, Robert Kruger, Ruan Ackermann, Jaco van der Walt, Harold Vorster, Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Southern Kings: Jurgen Visser, Luzuko Vulindlu, JP du Plessis, Shane Gates, Malcolm Jaer, Elgar Watts, Ntando Kebe, Jacques Engelbrecht, Thembelani Bholi, Chris Cloete, JC Astle, Steven Sykes, Tom Botha, Martin Ferreira, Schalk Ferreira.

Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle, Sti Sithole, Louis Albertse, Schalk Oelofse, CJ Velleman, Leighton Eksteen, Louis Fouché, Charles Radebe.

Sharks: Willie le Roux, Odwa Ndungane, Paul Jordaan, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Joe Pietersen, Cobus Reinach, Daniel du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Marcell Coetzee, Hyron Andrews, Etienne Oosthuizen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Franco Marais, Tendai Mtawarira (captain).

Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Juan Schoeman, Lourens Adriaanse, Dave McDuling, Philip van der Walt, Michael Claassens, Garth April, S’bura Sithole.

Stormers: Cheslin Kolbe, Kobus van Wyk, Johnny Kotze, Juan de Jongh (co-captain), Dillyn Leyds, Robert du Preez, Jano Vermaak, Nizaam Carr, Schalk Burger, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi, Oli Kebble.

Replacements: Scarra Ntubeni, JC Janse van Rensburg, Frans Malherbe (co-captain), JD Schickerling, Siya Kolisi, Nic Groom, Kurt Coleman, Leolin Zas.

Bulls: Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Francois Brummer, Rudy Paige, Arno Botha, Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager, Grant Hattingh, RG Snyman, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Trevor Nyakane.

Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Lizo Gqoboka, Hencus van Wyk, Jason Jenkins, Roelof Smit, Piet van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, Burger Odendaal. 

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