Bookies: Lions SA's best Super Rugby bet

Cape Town - The Lions are South Africa’s best bet for next year’s Super Rugby competition, if local bookmakers are to be believed.

As announced in April this year, the 2018 Super Rugby tournament will change from an 18-team, four conference format, to a 15-team, three conference system.

Local SA bookies, BET.co.za, have installed defending champions, the Crusaders, favourites at odds of 73/20.

The Hurricanes, winners in 2016, are second favourites at 17/4, followed by the Lions at 11/2.

Next are three Kiwi outfits: the Chiefs (13/2), Highlanders (15/2) and Blues (13/1).

Australia's Brumbies can be backed at 27/2, with the Stormers the next South African team at 33/2.

The Bulls (25/1) and Sharks (26/1) can be considered outsiders.

The 2018 tournament starts on Saturday, February 17 when the South African Conference kicks off with the Stormers hosting the Jaguares in Cape Town. The Lions, runners-up the last two years, host the Sharks in Johannesburg, while Bulls have a bye.

The Australian and New Zealand Conferences will kick off a week later when he Crusaders open the defence of their title at home against the Chiefs. The Brumbies, last year’s Australian Conference winners, start against the Sunwolves in Tokyo who are now positioned in the Australian Conference.

Each team will play 16 conference matches including eight matches within their own conference (four home and away) and four matches against teams from each of the other conferences (both home or away).

The Top 8 sides in the overall log will then qualify for the quarter-finals.

2018 Super Rugby odds - via BET.co.za:

Crusaders 73/20
Hurricanes 17/4
Lions 11/2
Chiefs 13/2
Highlanders 15/2
Blues 13/1
Brumbies 27/2
Stormers 33/2
Waratahs 23/1
Bulls 25/1
Sharks 26/1
Jaguares 40/1
Reds 53/1
Melbourne Rebels 99/1
Sunwolves 519/1

2018 Super Rugby Conferences:

New Zealand Conference
Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes

Australian Conference
Brumbies, Rebels, Reds, Waratahs, Sunwolves

South African Conference
Bulls, Lions, Sharks, Stormers, Jaguares