FIVE MAJOR TALKING POINTS FOR THE NEW SUPER RUGBY SEASON
1. Can the new-look Melbourne Rebels reach the Super Rugby finals for the first time? New coach David Wessels has a glittering array of stars at his disposal but turning them into a functional team is his big challenge.
2. Will the crowds return in Australia? Grandstands emptied last season as domestic franchises struggled badly and supporters tuned out of rugby in response to the seemingly never-ending Western Force saga.
3. Will the Kiwi teams lose their stranglehold on dominance? It's unlikely, but more top All Blacks are leaving for Europe while deeper Australian squads should give them a good chance to at least close the gap.
4. Can Daryl Gibson turn things around at the NSW Waratahs? A strong start to the season is a must to erase the memory of an embarrassing 2017 campaign that left his tenure hanging by a thread.
5. What will the Sunwolves bring to the table? The Japanese side have taken Western Force's spot in the Australian conference, and will play home and away games against every franchise, but have won just three games since their establishment.