Super Rugby

Perenara to become most capped Hurricane; Taufua chalks up century

Perenara will make his 127th appearance, eight seasons after he made his debut against the Stormers in Cape Town surpassing former teamates Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Hurricanes coach John Plumtree has made just one change to the starting lineup which beat the Bulls in the quarter finals with Salesi Rayasi replacing the injured s Wes Goosen on the wing.

The bench features the return of utility forward Vaea Fifita from suspension while James Marshall has recovered from an elbow injury which ruled him out of the quarter-final.

Cooper steps down as Chiefs coach

Cooper has coached the Chiefs for the past two years taking to the quarterfinals in 2018 and 2019 and was due to lead the side in 2020 but has cited the lack of hands on coaching as having played a part in his decision.

"The role of the head coach has evolved so much over the past five or six years," he said.

"My passion is 'hands-on' on-the-field coaching, but with bigger playing numbers and more staff involved these days, I am getting taken further and further away from my passion."

Cooper said he would now take a break to consider his future.

Mo'unga shines as Crusaders storm home

With a breathtaking blend of defensive grunt and attacking inspiration, the double defending champions kept their perfect home record in playoffs intact and extended their unbeaten winning streak at Rugby League Park to 29 matches.

They will return to the venue to meet the winner of the Hurricanes and the Bulls, who play their quarter-final on Saturday.

"We knew it was going to be tough, quarter-finals are always tough," Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock said.

Ben Smith returns for Highlanders

Smith will start at fullback after recovering from a hamstring strain which has kept him out for seven weeks.

He was expected to return last week against the Waratahs, but the Highlanders decided to give him extra time to recover.

The co-captain is one of just three changes to the Highlanders lineup with Sio Tomkinson replacing Tevita Li on the left wing.

Cane says Chiefs wanted to prove critics wrong

Colin Cooper's side dug themselves out of a 0-4 hole at the start of the season and overcame the loss of key players to injury to book themselves a quarter-final against Argentina's Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

Cane said the New Zealanders had been written off at various stages during the season but managed to rally each time to stay in touch.

"There's been numerous times throughout the year when it was like 'the Chiefs are out of it', or 'they're pretty much done', or 'they're a slim mathematical hope'," he said.

Brumbies ready to fly Australian flag in Super Rugby finals

The Brumbies are the only Australian team through to the Super Rugby finals despite a more competitive showing across the Australian conference this season.

Winning the Australian conference secured them a home quarter-final, to be played next Saturday against the Sharks, who won their final match in the 81st minute on Sunday morning.

McKellar said there was a feeling that the Brumbies had an opportunity to generate some optimism around rugby in the playoffs.

“I do think there's a sense that we're representing the country,” he said.

Waratahs to rest test stars despite slim chance of making Super Rugby finals

Rugby Australia avoided a nightmare scenario of having to decide whether to enforce its new Wallabies resting policy at the likely expense of NSW playing finals, after the Waratahs' season was all but ended by the Brumbies last week.

It means Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale will all likely miss the match on Friday.

NSW can still make finals but they need a bonus-point victory and several results to fall their way.

Waratahs assistant coach Steve Tandy confirmed players would be rested and backed the next wave to step up.

Blues out of playoff race

The fitting farewell for loose forward Scott Higginbotham and captain Samu Kerevi looked unlikely with the Reds trailing 21-5 after 23 minutes following a sluggish start.

But the hosts clawed back the deficit and secured just their sixth win of the season.

Higginbotham's first-half try, following good work by Kerevi and winger Jock Campbell, made him the first forward to notch 40 Super Rugby tries.

His effort came either side of tries to Blues' pair Tanielu Tele'a and Augustine Pulu after captain Blake Gibson opened the scoring after just three minutes.

Owen Franks poised for return for Crusaders against Rebels

The veteran prop's been struggling with a muscle tear in his right shoulder but has survived what appeared to be a busy training session in Christchurch on Tuesday.

Franks has to get through the full week to be considered for Saturday night's final round robin game against the Rebels. 

"It was great for him to get a good session in today," said assistant coach Ronan O'Gara. "He's tracking along nicely.

"He's been out for a substantial amount of time, so you have to be careful. He's such a prized asset that you've got to make sure you get his return to play right."

Hope, pride and Wallabies duels to drive Waratahs in run home: Beale

Those will be will be the driving forces behind the Waratahs in their last three games, according to Kurtley Beale, despite the fact NSW will need a miracle to make the finals.

The Waratahs crashing to an eighth loss for the season on Saturday night against the Jaguares left them sitting in 12th on the ladder, eight points behind the Brumbies and seven behind the Rebels, and four points outside the top eight.