They say that in World Cup year no one remembers who won the Rugby Championship. Whilst that might very well be true it won’t stop us from using another rugby tournament to try and build our betting balance prior to the big event in Japan.
South Africa vs Australia (Saturday @ 17:00) – Johannesburg
Springbok coach, Rassie Erasmus, has opted to use the Rugby Champs to give his extended run exposure. The coach will hope to give returning expats such as Elstadt, Koch, FransSteyn, Marcel Coetzee and Reinach a chance to show that they deserve to be part of the quest for the William Web Ellis whilst you guns Lizo Gqoboka and Herschel Jantjies also want to stick their hands up for a possible seat on the plane.
The Wallabies could possibly also add a few more potent players but they arrive on SA soil looking to find out what their best possible combinations could be going forward. Cheika’s pack will be well tested and a new loose-trio combination of Solakaia-Loto, Hooper and Isi Naisarani will have to meet their big South African opponents head on and not shy away from the physical contest. In Kerevi and Kuridrani they certainly have an impressive looking mid-field whilst Tom Banks is called on to fill the considerable boots of Folau.
Verdict: This is an un-tested Bok squad who will struggle to come out all guns blazing as a unit. I expect the Aussies to push them all the way but come up just short in the end.
Argentina vs New Zealand (Saturday @ 20:05)–Buenos Aires
The Jaguares were the revelation of Super Rugby 2019 and the Jaguares (with a whole host of Jags in their ranks) will be keen on keeping this momentum going. New Zealand come off another year where one of their teams won Super Rugby and they are also yet again well fancied to retain the World Cup.
With the other three opponents perhaps focussing more intensely on the Asian future, the Argentines are perhaps the team with the most continuity at present. The few Europeans will be blended into their ranks but for the most part this Los Pumas outfit should be a team in harmony, focussed on doing well in the Rugby Championship.
Steven Hanson has left a few stalwarts at home but it’s still a formidable team doing duty in South America. The All Blacks have found good balance between testing some less experienced players like Sevu Reece, BraydonEnnor, Luke Jacobson and Josh Ioane alongside proven warriors such as Dan Coles, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, the Smiths and Beauden Barrett.
Verdict: This is till a solid looking All Black outfit with some exciting youngster sprinkled in between but the Argentines are hungry, motivated and on a high and have earned our backing.
Note, odds quoted are available at the time of writing but are subject to change