The big southern hemisphere sides get to strut their stuff a head of the Rugby World Cup. Will they be trying to hide their tricks or go for the wins? Here are my predictions for this weekend’s games.
First up here is a link to my tournament preview/prediction.
New Zealand v Argentina
New Zealand have already had a run out against Samoa to clean off some of the rust. But it’s hard to judge them too far a head as there is only one goals this season which is clearly the Rugby Wold Cup. With two NZ franchises making it to the Super Rugby final there are plenty of players that need a rest. But do you rest them for a home game and then make them have the additional flights for the other games or play them now and rest them for the overseas games? We won’t know until we see the team sheets.
For Argentina this is a game that they are never expected to win and they can just go for it and enjoy the challenge with no pressure. That’s how you hope they will approach the game anyway. Thy will also be looking at managing their players with two overseas games in this championships but I expect a near full strength side to kick things off.
New Zealand by 12
Australia v South Africa
This is clearly the game of the weekend and South Africa blew some of the cobwebs away with a blow out against a World 15 last weekend. But there can’t always be much learnt from such one sided games. However for Australia we know even less where this is Cheika’s first squad selection. What we do know is that he is testing or managing players as well as he has said that at least two of the players left out will get a go later. So as it’s the beginning of the season, squads are being rotated and teams don’t want to give too much away it’s a bit of a lottery. I’m going with Australia as they are the home side and by a small margin as historically that has been the case when the Wallabies win.
Australia by 5
New Zealand Maori v New Zealand Barbarians
A little bonus, the Maori continued their very impressive winning run last weekend with a narrow win over Fiji. For the Barbarians this is their only run out. It does look like a good Barbarian side on paper but they will have not had much time together. The Maori have had a week or so now and coming off the back of that win I expect them to rack up a large victory at Eden Park this weekend.
New Zealand Maori by 40