THE Vodacom Super 14 campaign kicks off this week with seven matches at various venues.
All eyes will be on Bloemfontein on Friday, where southern hemisphere defending champions Bulls take on the Cheetahs at 7.10pm.
The Free Staters will be more motivated to avenge last season's defeat by the Bulls, who beat them in the final of the lucrative Absa Currie Cup in Pretoria.
On the other hand, the Bulls hope to start their title defence on a high note by winning their opening match on the road. On the same day the Western Force take on the Brumbies in Perth in Australia, while the Blues face the Hurricanes in Auckland.
On Saturday the Lions welcome the Stormers in what promises to be an entertaining match at Ellis Park Stadium at 5.05pm. Both sides wrapped up their preparations on a positive note at the weekend, with the Stormers beating Eugene Eloff's Boland 47-13 in Cape Town.
The Lions, under new coach Dick Muir, brushed aside the Leopards and Pumas 38-30 and 24-17, respectively, in Witbank on Friday.
In KwaZulu-Natal the Sharks play host to last season's finalists the Chiefs in Durban at 7pm.
The Crusaders meet the Highlanders at Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Reds engage the Waratahs at Brisbane, Australia, to wind up Saturday's programme.