The Rugby Championship is back! Well sort of, it’s apparently the Tri-Nations if you look at the logo. It’s not the Tri-Nations as we knew it though as it’s New Zealand, Australia and Argentina this time around as the Springboks have pulled out. Player welfare was cited as the reason as they have only just resumed rugby in South Africa. That didn’t stop the Pumas though….
You can get my thoughts on all of that here
Anyway you’re here for predictions not thoughts on if the Springboks should be playing in The Rugby Championship.
Australia v New Zealand – New Zealand by 10
Injuries have caused a big change for the Wallabies with a rookie 10-12 combination. That means 10 players in the match day 23 have 5 caps or less! Yup this is a very inexperienced side. Nearly half their caps from from Slipper, Hooper and Simmonds. In the past that would have been a real cause for concern.
However there is a positive side to it, basically a lot of these players aren’t used to losing to the Black Jersey. If anything they are used to success at age grades against a Black Jersey and that fearlessness could help them.
Even if the All Blacks jersey has lost some of its aura recently the players within the jerseys are still very good players and this is still a very good good team. Just maybe not god like anymore.
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There are a couple of players missing on paternity leave, Ardie Savea and Nepo Laulala but this is mainly a settled side from the opening two Bledisloe Cup tests.
The one surprise is the return of Laumape from his broken arm and DMac being dropped from the match-day 23. Just over a year ago DMac was a crucial peg in the All Black setup but injury has seen other plans put in place.