Super Rugby

Hurricanes open Super Rugby defence against Sunwolves

RNZ reports the Johannesburg-based Lions, who lost to the Hurricanes in last season's final, also start on the road but their journey is considerably shorter as they face the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein later on the same day.

Argentina's Jaguares will also be in South Africa on the opening weekend to play the Kings in Port Elizabeth, while the heavyweight Crusaders-ACT Brumbies and Stormers-Bulls clashes should also attract plenty of attention.

Hurricanes parade blows through Wellington

RNZ reports the team won 20-3 over the Lions at Westpac Stadium at the weekend, the first time they had won the competition in 21 seasons.

The parade left Parliament at midday, where Prime Minister John Key turned out for a photo with the team.

Fans are lining the streets to see the players parade down Lambton Quay and Willis St, with victory speeches to be held when the parade ends at Civic Square.

The Hurricanes have a chance of redemption

For long-time fans, such as Avril Ringrose of Plimmerton, a win in the final would be the perfect end to a season in which the Hurricanes weren't expected to match last year's efforts - especially after losing legends like Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Loni Uhila, Beauden Barrett and Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes celebrate beating the Chiefs in the Super Rugby semifinal at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

"I definitely think they'll win it this time. They have to, as they're the only New Zealand team not to have won it."

Lions captain Warren Whiteley won't play semi-final

Whiteley picked up the injury in the 42-25 quarter-final victory over the Crusaders last weekend and his loss is a blow for coach Johann Ackermann both in terms of his work with the ball and his leadership qualities.

The captain's armband moves to flank Jaco Kriel with the coach's son, Ruan Ackermann, taking over at the back of the scrum.

That is the only change to the starting line-up announced on Thursday from the side that thumped the Crusaders, though loose-forward Steph de Witt and scrumhalf Dillon Smit come onto the bench.

Crusaders sign former Wallabies winger

RNZ reports the New Zealand-born, Australian-raised winger already has played 86 Super rugby matches, mostly for the Queensland Reds between 2008-2013.

Ioane, who's played 35 tests, has since played for the Stade Francais in France and is about to return to his second season with the Honda Heat in Japan.

"I have had a great time playing in France and Japan, but the opportunity to be part of a New Zealand Super Rugby team is too good to pass up," said Ioane.

The recently appointed Crusaders Coach Scott Robertson said Ioane was a key signing for the team.

Hurricanes trounce Sharks

The hosts overcame one of the tightest defences in the competition despite appallingly wet conditions in the New Zealand capital, condemning the Sharks to the ignominy of being the first side to be held scoreless in a Super Rugby playoff.

Tries from prop Loni Uhila and fullback James Marshall in four minutes of the first half put the visitors well on the back foot and winger Jason Woodward and lock Vaea Fifita crossed inside two minutes of the second to seal the win.

Crusaders well beaten by Lions

The win ensures a first ever Super Rugby semifinal for the Johannesburg-based side, who finished top of the South Africa Conference at the end of the regular season.

The Lions scored further tries through powerful hooker Malcolm Marx, wing Ruan Combrinck and replacement scrumhalf Ross Cronje as they amassed their highest ever points tally against the New Zealanders.

Donald to start at 12 for Chiefs

With All Black Seta Tamanivalu out with a knee injury, Anton Lienert-Brown moves out one to take the number 13 jersey with Donald inside him.

Brad Weber and Aaron Cruden are the halves.

In all there are six changes from the side that lost to the Highlanders last weekend.

In the forwards the tight five remains the same, while in the loose forwards, Tom Sanders moves to the back of the scrum with Taleni Seu to start at blindside flanker. Sam Cane will lead the pack in jersey seven.

Sam McNicol is promoted from the bench to start in jersey 14.

Julian Savea dropped for Canes' quarter-final

RNZ reports Savea has been named on the bench for Saturday night's match in Wellington, with Jason Woodward preferred to start on the left wing.

Woodward moves from centre, with Matt Proctor returning to start after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Props Loni Uhila and Ben May come into the front row.

Uhila starts at loosehead prop in place of Reggie Goodes, who was unavailable for selection after leaving the field with concussion during the final match of the regular season against the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend.

Smith wary of Argentine Super Rugby team

While the Highlanders won the 2015 Super Rugby Championship, three teams have been added to strengthen the depth of the competition next year.

They are Japan Sunwolves, an unnamed Argentine team and the Southern Kings from South Africa.