New Zealand have confirmed a 32-man squad for the third Bledisloe Cup match against Australia, as well as their Spring Tour.
The 2018 finals might still be on the way, but SANZAAR has dropped a bombshell on Tuesday morning, announcing the 2019 Super Rugby draw well ahead of schedule.
Being a World Cup year, there will be no break for the June International window next year, with the end of the regular season and then finals pushed forward by a month, with the final set to be played on Saturday, July 6.
The season also starts a week earlier, allowing the tournament to be finished well in advance of the Japan-hosted World Cup, which will begin on Friday, September 20.
2018 has marked the last June International window break, with a new global rugby calendar set to be introduced from 2020 to avert the need for provincial competitions to take a four-week break.
Apart from those changes, the Super Rugby competition will be played under the same format, with a 15-team competition to be divided into three conferences. The winners of each conference, as well as five wildcard teams will then play in the top eight finals series.
Unlike 2018, next season will see 14 of the 15 teams begin their season in the first round, moving away from the South African-only start this year.
While venues for the competition are yet to be announced, three of the Australian teams will have byes in the opening three rounds, with the Reds set to miss the competition’s opener.
There are plenty of teams still yet to confirm where they are going to be based in 2019, with the Waratahs among them. They have played games at Brookvale and the Sydney Cricket Ground this year, but will need to play all of their home games elsewhere in 2019 with Allianz Stadium undergoing renovations.
The Chiefs and Highlanders will play the season opener on Friday, February 15 with an all-Australian derby between the Brumbies and Rebels to follow.
The Waratahs’ first game will be at home against the Hurricanes, while the Reds commence in New Zealand against the Highlanders in Round 2.