By Scott Donaldson
The Rugby Championship Round 4 features a virtual final between the All Blacks and Springboks while the Wallabies are in turmoil and have benched their star halfback Will Genia to face Argentina. The All Blacks and Wallabies are favourites this weekend, but could we see the Springboks and Pumas winning?
I think this weekend is the most exciting of the Rugby Championship 2013. For the first time in recent memory, the All Blacks look less settled and are coming off a smaller winning margin than their opposition. If the Springboks win in Auckland on Saturday night, they will have their first Rugby Championship in their grasp and gain a rare victory at Eden Park.
Unlike the unchanged Springboks, the All Blacks have made five changes after their disappointing but effective enough win over the Pumas. They have included Dane Coles at hooker in a move that surprised most, but is indicative of the fact the both Andrew Hore and Keven Mealamu probably won’t last until the Rugby World Cup 2015. The All Blacks will be hard pressed to win without captain Richie McCaw either, although Sam Cane offers more speed around the paddock. Liam Messam and Owen Franks return to add some experience. Some people think Steven Luatua is unlucky, but I think he will add value from the bench. Ma’a Nonu returns to the backline and it is ironic that All Blacks fans are pleased to see him back starting, unlike Highlanders fans were earlier this year!
As an All Blacks fan, I feel uneasy with this game. The home advantage at the fortress of Eden Park will hopefully get the All Blacks home, but I have been impressed by the Springboks this season.
The Wallabies are in turmoil and seem unsure of how to stop losing. It is ironic given that Australians usually don’t lack confidence, but this team seems to be the least confident Aussies ever! They have dumped one of their only world class players in Will Genia and I am left wondering if Robbie Deans was a bad coach after all. The Pumas are improving and will be a challenge for the Wallabies at set pieces.
I am picking the Wallabies to just beat the Pumas, but the Pumas are paying $4 so if you fancy those odds then get down to the TAB.
In summary, both the All Blacks and Wallabies are hot favourites for the Rugby Championship Round 4. I think that both the Springboks and Pumas have a better chance of winning than the odds suggest and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Springboks or Pumas did grab a win.
Did you know that if the Springboks beat the All Blacks this weekend, they become the IRB top ranked team? This does seem stupid given that the All Blacks have hardly lost in recent times, while the Springboks haven’t been their usual selves in recent seasons. The Wallabies could also end up sixth on the IRB rankings if they lose to Argentina this weekend. There is more than just The Rugby Championship points at stake!
Here are the Rugby Championship Round 4 Team Lists
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