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RugbyU: Australian Super 15 team penpix

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Penpix of the Australian teams playing in this season's Super 15 series, which starts on Friday.

ACT BRUMBIES

Coach: Jake White

Captain: Ben Mowen

Stadium: Canberra Stadium

Best finish: Champions (2001, 2004)

Under former World Cup-winning Springboks coach Jake White, the Brumbies narrowly failed to win last season's Australian conference and a place in the play-offs with a final-round loss to the Auckland Blues. The Brumbies have bolstered their squad with the addition of Wallabies' star flanker David Pocock from Western Force and South African lock Etienne Oosthuizen, while former Wallaby back Clyde Rathbone has come out of a three-year retirement. White has also recruited former National Rugby League coach Brian Smith as the team's defence coach. The Brumbies have a core of experience with Wallabies Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander and Pat McCabe and some exciting young talent in Matt Toomua, Joseph Tomane, Henry Speight and Christian Lealiifano. The White influence should have the Brumbies among Australia's leading challengers for the Super 15 title.

MELBOURNE REBELS

Coach: Damien Hill

Captain: Gareth Delve

Stadium: AAMI Park

Best finish: 13th (2012)

The Rebels embark on their third Super Rugby season bolstered by hooker Shota Horie, who is in line to become the first Japanese player in the competition's 17-year history, and the arrival of Wallaby backrower Scott Higginbotham from the Queensland Reds. Much of the Rebels' hopes hinge on their Wallaby duo Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor, who missed much of last season through injury. Welsh number eight Gareth Delve will be a driving influence in the forwards. Damien Hill is into his second term as coach since taking over from coach Rod Macqueen. The Rebels, missing the experience this year of senior backs Mark Gerrard and Stirling Mortlock, face a challenge to test the other strong Australian teams as they continue to lay foundations of rugby in the Australian Football League heartland of Melbourne.

NSW WARATAHS

Coach: Michael Cheika

Captain: Dave Dennis

Stadium: Allianz Stadium

Best finish: Runners-up (2005, 2008)

The Waratahs are Australia's great Super Rugby under-achievers, given the large number of Wallabies in their squad, and Michael Cheika has the task as the incoming head coach from Leinster to realise glory for the Sydney-based team. The Waratahs have added emerging flanker Michael Hooper and former rugby league international back Israel Folau to their ranks, to be led this season by blindside flanker Dave Dennis. The Waratahs won only four games out of 16 last season, leading to the departure of Michael Foley who is now coach of Western Force. If Cheika can turn it around, the 'Tahs have the attacking players in Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Rob Horne, Israel Folau, Drew Mitchell and Lachie Turner to match any backline in Super Rugby. The trick will be to realise it.

QUEENSLAND REDS

Coach: Richard Graham

Captain: James Horwill

Stadium: Suncorp Stadium

Best finish: Champions (2011)

The Reds failed in their bid for back-to-back Super Rugby titles when they went down to the Coastal Sharks in the play-offs, after winning six straight matches to get to their home qualifying final as Australian conference champions. The 2011 winners have a new head coach in last year's Western Force mentor Richard Graham, with Ewen McKenzie moving above him in a director of coaching role. Much of the Reds' hopes this season hinge on the creativity of their Wallaby halves Quade Cooper and Will Genia behind a strong forward pack, led by skipper James Horwill. A strong all-round squad features Wallaby backs Digby Ioane, Michael Harris and Ben Tapuai. The Reds are expected to push strongly to finish top of the Australian conference along with their traditional rivals, the ACT Brumbies and NSW Waratahs.

WESTERN FORCE

Coach: Michael Foley

Captain: Alby Mathewson

Stadium: NIB Stadium

Best finish: Seventh (2007)

Western Force have struggled to make an impact in their seven Super Rugby seasons and have been much changed under new coach Michael Foley in a bid to become competitive. They have recruited four-time All Black scrum-half Alby Mathewson and Central Cheetahs flyhalf Sias Ebersohn to solve their problems in the halves, while adding former Wallabies lock Hugh McMeniman and utility back Sam Norton-Knight from Japanese clubs. But skipper David Pocock's defection to the Brumbies will be a huge loss. The Force will be looking for an improvement in fortunes this season, as they have in other years.

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