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gets underway for 2016 this evening and we need all the help we can get in tipping a competition that's undergone so many changes since last season.

Opening rounds are always tough ones to predict for a variety of reasons, but this season will be especially difficult given we have three new teams, a new conference format, as well as a high turnover of players post RWC 2015.

Add to the above a long list of injuries and rule changes and we have ahead of us one of the most interesting seasons of tipping in recent memory.

My role as resident statistician is to help advise you on how to overcome these unknowns. Below are a few indicators that can help us in this and the coming weeks.


When in doubt, keep it close.

61% of all results over the past five seasons have been decided by 1-12 points with double the number of these close results occurring in the opening five rounds compared to the final five of a season.

New clubs struggle.

The Kings, Jaguares and Sunwolves are all brand new clubs for this season and even though the Kings have one previous season under their belt, they can safely be lumped into this category.

Clubs that have been introduced to Super Rugby have averaged just three total wins in their first season of play.

Not much to new bonus point.

With a new bonus point system in place for 2016, Super Rugby is hoping to induce clubs into playing for tries for the full 80 minutes.

One would think that this would have an impact on our predictions, possibly to inflate the numbers of 13+ results. However, in France's Top 14 competition where the rule has already been in place for some time there was a remarkably similar percentage, 57%, of 1-12 results in their 2014/15 season.

As far as the opening round itself is concerned I'm tipping all of these new clubs to go down by 13+ results to their opponents while I also see the Waratahs securing a big win over the Reds.

The closer results I see going the way of the Highlanders, Brumbies, Chiefs, Rebels and Stormers.

However, if stats aren't your thing our resident panel of rugby experts, made up of some of New Zealand's best sports writers and broadcasters, have had their say as well.

The majority of our experts are picking wins to the Hurricanes, Cheetahs, Lions, Waratahs, Force and Sharks while they're split 50/50 on the Blues v Highlanders and Crusaders v Chiefs games.

If you believe you have the magic touch when it comes to tipping, it's not too late to sign up, challenge your mates and see if you can beat the best in the business by heading to registering today.

Best of luck to all of you tippers out there, I'll see you at the top of the rankings.