Friday, 16 August 2013

2013 Rugby Championship - Australia v New Zealand

The All Blacks will be fielding a starting lineup of players with 683 Test caps on their combined CVs, versus an Australian team with 442 Test Caps. Riding the pine, New Zealand also have an advantage in experience - 169 to 93. That would seem to give us the edge, especially in the front row (who'll be looking to master new rules and continue the demolition act the Lions pulled on the boys in yellow), the loosies, and our granite-like midfield pairing of Smith & Nonu.

But that's not to say it will be easy. Nonu is carrying a dodgy ankle, and a huge chip on his shoulder; as ever, his discipline could be an issue. The loss of Messam also weakens us at blindside a little, as we are having to start a debutant in Steven Luatua in his place - and immensely gifted player at Super level. Richie McCaw has played some club rugby since November last year. And there is no Daniel Carter.

But look past the media whipped-up negatives. Aaron Cruden is a player of immense talent and skill. Sam Whitelock is turning into one of the best locks in world rugby. McCaw will be fizzing, and our back three will be itching to return the possible Brumb ... I mean Wallabies kicking game. Ben Smith, Julian Savea and Israel Dagg ... more dangerous than a SharkNado!

Huge test for Ewen MacKenzie’s team. I expect them to be fired up, and contesting everything to niggle away at New Zealand and disrupt them. They have talent out wide to burn ... but questions remain over their forwards ability to win & retain the ball those speedsters need.

It’ll be a cracker. Nerves all round .. but I think New Zealand will do it by 10 points. There. I’ve jinxed it.

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