The Hurricanes will begin their Super Rugby title defence in Japan, it has been revealed in the 2017 schedule release today.

The 2016 champions, who claimed their first ever title this year, open the season against the Sunwolves in Tokyo while the Blues will also begin the year outside of New Zealand with an away clash against the Rebels on Thursday February 23 - the first game of the season.


Also in week one the Crusaders host the Brumbies and the Highlanders and Chiefs will face off in a local derby.


The 2017 draw incorporates the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, with the competition only taking a two week break.

The Blues will finish the regular season in Tokyo following a six-week break during the Lions tour.

The Sunwolves have a tough draw having to face the Crusaders, Highlanders and Chiefs on the road before taking on the Jaguares in Argentina.

Listen: Radio Sport's Kent Johns discusses the Super Rugby draw with Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee:

Blues draw (Home matches in bold)
v Rebels, Thursday February 23
v Chiefs, Friday March 3
v Highlanders, Saturday March 11
v Crusaders, Friday March 17
v Bulls, Saturday March 25
v Force, Saturday April 1
v Highlanders, Saturday April 8
v Hurricanes, Saturday April 15
v Brumbies, Sun April 30
v Waratahs, Saturday May 6
v Cheetahs, Friday May 12
v Stormers, Friday May 19
v Chiefs, Friday May 26
v Reds, Friday June 2
v Sunwolves, Saturday July 15

Hurricanes draw (Home matches in bold)
v Sunwolves, Tokyo, Saturday, February 25
v Rebels, Saturday, March 4, 5.15pm
v Chiefs, Friday, March 10, 7:35pm
v Highlanders, Saturday, March 18, 7:35pm
v Reds, Brisbane, Saturday, April 1, 9:45pm
v Waratahs, Friday, April 7, 7:35pm
v Blues, Saturday, April 15, 7:35pm
v Brumbies, Friday, April 21, 7:35pm
v Stormers, Friday, May 5, 7:35pm

v Crusaders, Christchurch, Saturday, May 13, 7:35pm
v Cheetahs, Saturday, May 20, 7:35pm
v Bulls, Pretoria, Sunday, May 28, 1:05am
v Force, Perth, Saturday, June 3, 11:55pm
v Chiefs, Friday, June 9, 7:35pm
v Crusaders, Saturday, July 15, 7:35pm
Crusaders draw (home games in bold)
v Brumbies, Saturday, February 25
v Highlanders, Saturday March 4
v Reds, Saturday March 11
v Blues, Friday March 17
v Force, Friday March 24
v Waratahs, Sunday April 2
v Sunwolves, Friday April 14
v Stormers, Saturday April 22
v Cheetahs, Saturday April 29
v Bulls, Saturday May 6
v Hurricanes, Saturday May 13
v Chiefs, Friday May 19
v Rebels, Saturday May 27
v Highlanders, Saturday June 3
v Hurricanes, Saturday July 15

Highlanders draw
v Chiefs, Friday February 24
v Crusaders, Saturday March 4
v Blues, Saturday March 11
v Hurricanes, Saturday March 18
v Brumbies, Saturday March 25
v Rebels, Friday March 31
v Blues, Saturday April 8
v Sunwolves, Saturday April 22
v Stormers, Friday April 28
v Cheetahs, Friday May 5
v Bulls, Saturday May 13
v Force, Saturday May 20
v Waratahs, Saturday May 27
v Crusaders, Saturday June 3
v Reds, Friday July 14