Cape Town - South African teams will find the going tough during next year’s Super Rugby competition, if local bookmakers are to be believed.
The Super Rugby tournament will be expanded to 18 teams next year, with South Africa’s Southern Kings, Argentina’s Jaguares and Japan’s Sunwolves set to join the fray.
There will be two South African conferences - with the Kings and Jaguares in one conference and the Sunwolves in the other - as well as one conference each from New Zealand and Australia.
Many pundits feel the new format will favour the South African teams, but local bookmakers, Sportingbet, appear to disagree.
They have predicted the Stormers will be the best performing South African franchise, with the Capetonians at 11/1 odds to be crowned champions under the guidance of new coach Robbie Fleck.
A trio of New Zealand teams - the Chiefs, Crusaders and Hurricanes - have been made joint-favourites at 6/1, once again emphasising the strength and depth of New Zealand rugby.
Australia's Waratahs are next best at 13/2, while last year's winners, the Highlanders, along with the Brumbies and the Jaguares, are all on offer at 10/1.
The Bulls and Sharks (14/1) are next-best among the SA chances, while the Lions (22/1) and Cheetahs (80/1) appear to be rank outsiders.
The Southern Kings - who are battling a dire financial situation - are a token 350/1, while the bookies have shown no faith in the Sunwolves, backing them to be wooden-spoonists at 500/1.
Sportingbet's 2016 Super Rugby odds:
Argentina Franchise 10/1
Western Force 100/1
Southern Kings 350/1
Japan Sunwolves 500/1