By NSW Waratahs Media unit

The 2018 Vodafone Super Rugby season was officially launched in Brisbane this morning as the four Australian teams begin their quest to bring home the world’s most coveted provincial Rugby trophy.

The four Australian Super Rugby Captains Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs), Adam Coleman (Rebels), Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies), and Scott Higginbotham (Reds) opened up about their teams’ preparations just two weeks out from their opening battles.

With a return to a 15-team three-conference competition structure in 2018, local rivalries will once again come to the fore with each of the Australian teams squaring off home-and-away throughout the season.

Rugby Australia CEO, Raelene Castle said: “2018 is all about bringing back the rivalry. Home and away derbies are a major feature of the new format and we are going to celebrate our Aussie rivalries like never before.

“There are plenty of new faces on each of our teams and there is a genuine belief and expectation amongst every fan group that their team can challenge for a finals berth.

“Throughout the season there will be 19 themed matches played in Australia with teams set to celebrate their club’s heritage, Women in Rugby, our Indigenous heritage, and ANZAC Day.

“The players, coaches and fans are ready, and we are looking forward to a memorable season.”

Vodafone enters its second season as the Australian naming rights partner of Super Rugby and will also be offering an exclusive deal to the Rugby community which includes 60gb of data for $60.

Vodafone Consumer Business Unit Director Ben McIntosh said: “At Vodafone we’re just as passionate about Rugby as we are about giving our customers great value and customer service.

“That’s why this year we want to celebrate our Super Rugby partnership by rewarding Rugby lovers and budding young Rugby stars with a special mobile offer available exclusively online for the grassroots Rugby community.

“We’re proud to be giving back to the grassroots Rugby community that feeds our Super Rugby and national teams and can’t wait for kick off this season.”

Week one of Vodafone Super Rugby kicks off in just seven sleeps when the Stormers host the Jaguars in Cape Town, before the Lions take on the Sharks in Johannesburg on February 18 (AEDT).

The Australian and New Zealand Conferences will start a week later when the Melbourne Rebels go head-to-head with the Queensland Reds in the first all-Aussie showdown on Friday, February 23 at AAMI Park.

The Brumbies, Australian Conference winners from 2017, will open their season on Saturday, February 24 with an afternoon clash against the Sunwolves in Tokyo.

Later that night Australia's most recent Super Rugby champions, the Waratahs, will begin their quest for a second title against the Stormers at Allianz Stadium.

FOX Sports will deliver LIVE, ad break free and high definition coverage of every Super Rugby match in the 2018 Vodafone Super Rugby season and Network Ten will broadcast a full replay of one Australian match each Sunday morning on ONE.

Rugby fans will have their Saturday sorted on FOX SPORTS, with up to four LIVE games, ad-break free and back-to-back on the all-new Super Saturday. Rod Kafer and George Gregan will offer their expert insight alongside host Nick McArdle, while Louise Ransome joins the team to deliver the latest news from around the grounds.

Popular show Kick & Chase will also be returning with a new timeslot of 7.30pm on Wednesdays. Nick McArdle will host alongside Drew Mitchell and Brendan Cannon.

Fans can share their excitement for the new Vodafone Super Rugby season and join the conversation by using the hashtag #somethingSuper.

The NSW Waratahs kick off their Vodafone Super Rugby season on Saturday 24 February at home against the Cape Town-based side, the Stormers at Allianz Stadium.

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