Hurricanes to start 2017 Super Rugby season in Tokyo

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The Hurricanes Julian Savea looks for support in the Super Rugby Quater Final, Hurricanes v Sharks, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Saturday, July 23, 2016.

The Hurricanes Julian Savea looks for support in the Super Rugby Quater Final, Hurricanes v Sharks, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Saturday, July 23, 2016. (Photo: Kerry Marshall / www.photosport.nz)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — First time champions the Hurricanes will begin their defense of the Super Rugby title against Japan's Sunwolves in Tokyo on Feb. 25 under the draw for the 2017 tournament which was released on Tuesday.

The Sunwolves finished last in 2016 while the Wellington-based Hurricanes claimed their first Super Rugby title, beating the Johannesburg-based Lions in the final.

The Lions begin their campaign away to the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs while last season's semifinalists, New Zealand's Chiefs and Highlanders, will meet in their opening match on Feb. 24.

The Melbourne Rebels will play the Auckland-based Blues in the first match of the new season at Melbourne on Thursday, Feb. 23.

The draw confirms there will be no reduction in the number of teams or changes to the contentious conference system in 2017.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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