The ACT Brumbies will get an immediate shot at Super Rugby redemption when the 2013 season begins and chief executive Andrew Fagan hopes the club's resurgence will boost crowd numbers.
SANZAR issued the draw yesterday with the second year of the Jake White era to begin against the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium at the end of February.
It's a fitting clash after the Reds extinguished the Brumbies' revival when they stole top spot on the Australian conference to clinch a finals berth this year. The Brumbies led the Australian conference for the majority of last season but stumbled at the final hurdle, a loss to the Auckland Blues allowing the Reds to leapfrog them.
The match against the Reds is followed two weeks later by a blockbuster clash with the NSW Waratahs in the capital.
They are two of eight games at Canberra Stadium with the Australian teams to kick start the competition on a stand-alone weekend.
The Brumbies will also play the Canterbury Crusaders on a Sunday afternoon in Canberra and will use their match against the Western Force on April 27 as an ANZAC Day tribute. The clash with the Force will also be the first time marquee recruit David Pocock has a chance to play his old club.
The season has been made longer to accommodate the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia and the Southern Kings have replaced the Johannesburg Lions in South Africa.
The unexpected Brumbies turnaround with White in charge saw average crowd numbers rise from 13,114 in 2011 to 14,419 this year.
Fagan hoped starting against rivals the Reds and Waratahs, and a day match against the competition powerhouse Crusaders, would further increase crowds. The Brumbies have started selling 2013 memberships with more than 5000 taken already.
''We've had a strong response to memberships and we're still five months out from the season,'' Fagan said.The Brumbies' last home game will be against the Melbourne Rebels on June 7. They will also play a mid-week tour match against the British and Irish Lions on June 18.
Brumbies memberships are available on the club's website.