Super Rugby

Chiefs confirm departure of All Blacks fullback Damian McKenzie

  McKenzie, whose contract with New Zealand Rugby is due to finish at the end of the year, played 95 times for the Chiefs and is reportedly set for a lucrative move to Japan.

"All I know is Damian is not going to be with us, at the moment that's all I can sort of comment on," the Chiefs chief executive Michael Collins told Stuff.

"I think Damian McKenzie's probably irreplaceable. He's one of the Chiefs' favourite sons, done a great job for us over many years."

The Chiefs on Tuesday welcomed the arrival of Māori All Blacks first-five Josh Ioane from the Highlanders.

Josh Ioane signs for Chiefs after leaving Highlanders early

Ioane, of Te Rārawa, was granted an early release from the Highlanders with a year remaining on his contract.

He's signed a one year deal with the Chiefs for the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

The 26-year-old, who holds one All Blacks Test cap to his name, said he is excited to link up with the Chiefs.

"I've loved my time with the Highlanders and am grateful for everything they've done for me" said Ioane.

Moana Pasifika granted unconditional licence to join revamped Super Rugby in 2022

Exactly what that competition looks like remains to be seen but the granting of an unconditional licence on Monday means the Moana Pasifika club can now focus towards it with certainty.

As Stuff revealed earlier on Monday, Moana Pasifika has placed recruitment on hold for the past few weeks, dramatically hampering its ability to build a competitive squad for the 2022 competition due to the uncertainty of only holding a conditional licence.

Moana Pasifika to be confirmed in Super Rugby

New Zealand Rugby awarded the franchise a conditional licence in April to join a revamped competition, alongside five teams from New Zealand, five from Australia and the Fijian Drua.

Confirmation was expected last month but complications over finance, the competition format and getting buy-in from Rugby Australia led to extended delays.

RNZ Pacific has been told an announcement will be made today confirming Moana Pasifika's licence to compete next season.

A title is a title: Blues seek to end 18 years of pain

It might not be the full Super Rugby competition but for a team labelled consistent under achievers for the past decade, beating the Highlanders at Eden Park on Saturday night to lift the trans-Tasman trophy would mean just as much.

 

The Blues beat the Crusaders in 2003 to claim their third and last Super Rugby title, with former All Black number 8 Xavier Rush as captain.

Blues to host Highlanders in trans-Tasman final as Crusaders fall short

Needing only to win to secure their spot after the Crusaders failed to rack up enough points against the Rebels in Saturday's earlier match, the Blues completed their mission reasonably comfortably against the Perth-based Australians.

Four unanswered tries in the first half, including two for loose forward Hoskins Sotutu, all but secured the Blues a first home Super Rugby final since they won their third title in the international competition in 2003.

Highlanders, Hurricanes face nervous wait for Super final destiny

The Highlanders' bonus-point win at Canberra Stadium put them top of the table on 23 points, two points ahead of the second-placed Hurricanes, but both teams need results to go their way on Saturday.

The third-placed Blues (19 points) can claim the top spot and the right to host the final with victory at home to the Western Force but the equation is tougher for the fourth-placed Crusaders (18).

Crusaders' big mover Leicester Fainga'anuku staying in Christchurch

Usually, however, the off-contract players tend to stay put – such is the commitment that they have to the culture in Crusaders country.

Bulldozing outside back Leicester Fainga’anuku has become the latest to extend his time with the Super Rugby Aotearoa champions, agreeing to a new deal that will keep him in Christchurch until 2023.

Disruption for Wallabies as code convert Suliasi Vunivalu unavailable for mid-year tests

Vunivalu hobbled off the field in Queensland’s 31-24 Super Rugby Trans-Tasman loss to the Blues last weekend and Wallabies coach Dave Rennie says the injury is significant enough to rule him out of the three-Test series against the French next month.

“Obviously a reasonably serious hamstring injury,” Rennie told AAP.

“That’s going to see him miss the French series and we’ll know a little bit more detail beyond that but he certainly won’t be available for France.”

Hurricanes coach dismisses Trans-Tasman 'gap' after costly Brumbies loss

The Hurricanes needed to score a bonus point win in Canberra on Saturday night to remain on track for the tournament final, but the Brumbies clinched their first 2021 series victory over a Kiwi team with a 12-10 win.

Squandered opportunities – including two late Jordie Barrett penalty attempts – left the stunned Hurricanes to contemplate a tough final round return to Wellington to meet the Reds.

Holland said the tournament format rewarded consistency, and the Hurricanes had come up short.