November Internationals Round 1
November 9, 2012 in rugby
It’s that time of year again where the heavyweights of the Southern and Northern hemispheres go head to head. Maybe to see who is the best of the best, but then again, usually the end of year tours are used by coaches to blood new talent and try some new combinations. At least that’s the way that some coaches approach these tours. Let’s take a look at the upcoming round.
Ireland vs South Africa
Ireland look to be one of the tougher oppositions that the Boks will face on this outgoing tour. Following their Heineken Cup and Rabodirect Pro 12 campaings show that the Irish provinces are no short of potential. They are short of some of their big names through injury (Kearney, O’Driscoll to name a few), but still they shouldn’t be underestimated. Jamie Heaslip is an inspirational player and will do well as captain. Johnny Sexton controls the game well as pivot and Tommy Bowe has looked more than hungry and on fire since coming back from injury.
On the other end of the spectrum I think that Pat Lambie will relish his chance to finally play in the starting lineup. JP Pietersen will look to continue the form he showed before getting injured and a guy like Francois Louw will bring a lot to the team as one of the European based Springboks. Still I would like to see a few changes in the Bok starting lineup: Mvovo instead of Hougaard at 11, since Mvovo is a specialist wing; and I would’ve chosen Juan de Jongh over Jaco Taute. De Jongh would’ve provided much needed experience in the midfield where I foresee the Irish to be a handful with the likes of Darcy and Earls.
My Superbru prediction: South Africa by 4.
France vs Australia
The French has always been one of those enigmatic teams; here they lose against a minnow, there they thrash a heavyweight – you just never how it will go with them. The French will miss their inspirational captain Dusautoir, but still they boast a team with more than enough experience with the likes of Florian Fritz at 13, Vincent Clerc at 11, and Yannick Nyanga at 6. If you believe that Southern Hemisphere rugby is stronger (and I do!) then Freddy Michalak’s experience, picked up with the Sharks, will be invaluable to them as a team.
Australia hasn’t looked too good this year. Not even on Super Rugby level. But in spite of that they’ve managed to arm wrestle the almighty All Blacks to a draw in their last encounter. Under fire Wallabies coach Robbie Deams has largely stuck to his mediocre formula (not that I blame him) due to injury and lack op depth. An Aussie win will depend on the likes of Ashley-Cooper, Beale, Hooper and Sharpe coming to the party and leading from the front.
Superbru prediction: France by 6
Scotland vs New Zealand
The past few weeks hasn’t looked good for Scotland with injuries and injury scares being the headlines from their camp. On a provincial level their teams haven’t done all that well in the past month or so, and I don’t foresee that this will change come Sunday when they face the All Blacks. When looking through their team sheet they do have enough international experience with the likes of Sean Lamont, Mike Blair, Jim Hamilton and Ross Ford. But the question remains – will they able to pull a rabbit from a hat this weekend?
What more can be said about the Almighty All Blacks? Love them, hate them or love to hate them, you have to agree that they truly are the form team in the world; living up to their World Champions tag. Israel Dagg is probably one of the best counter attackers from the back. Team that up with the likes of Jane and Savea and you have one very potent cocktail. Dan Carter is (to my mind) the best flyhalf in the world. Richie McCaw’s contribution in the no. 7 jersey can’t even be described. Whether you agree with his methods or not; this man is everywhere! Even though coach Hansen has made 10 changes to his team, they are still fielding a more than fierce starting 15.
My Superbru prediction: All Blacks by 15
Other Internationals to be played this coming weekend:
Italy vs Tonga = Italy by 12
England vs Fiji = England by 13
Wales vs Argentina = Wales by 6
Until next time