Finding this Super Rugby hard to grasp, plonked in the middle of a sweltering summer as the tournament prepares for the start of its 24th version in Hamilton tonight?

Those awkward feelings continued as former New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum popped up in a television trailer to promote the winter code. Demographics, the ad people will shout, while the general populace roll their eyes.

Our brows are also crinkled with the recent run of batting stumbles for the region's Kane Williamson while the Chiefs are dealing with the slew of five-eighths injuries which have bitten into their resources.

It's that conficting crossover period in the sports calendar which carries more inspection for the New Zealand cricket side as they finish their last few matches before 15 players are chosen for the World Cup.


In another six months there will be rising public noise and conjecture as the All Blacks panel sift through notes on casualties and form players to take to their global title defence in Japan.

Those wise men and others they sound out, will tune into the arrival of Super Rugby to evaluate trends and players across the entire tournament but they won't take out their serious notebooks until after Easter.

It's strange territory though. The selectors will have plenty of information on last year's All Blacks who will be on different fitness and return to play programmes from others looking to return to that status.

Newbies and others yet to collect international honours or looking to regain that prestige will need to impress, with particular impact in the New Zealand derbies.

Think of men such as Luke Romano, Atu Moli, Ma'a Nonu, Akira Ioane, Matt Duffie, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Asafo Aumua who missed large chucks of last year because of injury, form or overseas work but will get an early chance to impress.

Will someone demand a selection tick as Karl Tu'inukuafe and Dalton Papalii did at opposite ends of last year and can George Bridge sustain his potential?

Those questions will bounce around the privacy of the selection table while the public forum will be more volatile about the World Cup squad and the coach to succeed Steve Hansen.