It’s here – the 2013 Rugby Championship is finally upon us, with Round One kicking off in Sydney between the Wallabies and the All Blacks; and the second kick off in Soweto between the Springboks and the Pumas.
There’s been personnel changes for all of the squads, so tonight will be the first look many of us get at the other nations line-ups (for many, even our own).
A short and quick one to start off with – who’s going to take home the trophy at the end of the championship?
It’s hard to go past New Zealand, even if they are Carter and Messam-less tonight. With such depth throughout Kiwi rugby, it’s going to be difficult for any of the other three nations to get a tilt at them -but tonight could be the one shot Australia have at even looking like getting an edge in the quest to snatch back the Bledisloe Cup.
With five debutantes in the Wallabies squad, including fly half Matt Toomua, and a new coach, anything could happen.Personally, I find it easier to prepare for the worst – aim low, so you can never be disappointed.
The All Blacks welcome back captain Richie McCaw, much to the delight of Sydney siders warming up to scream “off-side black 7!” and should lead his side to another victory at ANZ Stadium but who knows.. the sabbatical may have done him more harm than good?
The Springboks get ready to host a captain-less Los Pumas after Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe withdrew with a calf injury and with the retirement of Rodrigo Roncero – who looked about 90 last time on the pitch – the Pumas front row will be mixed up with newbie tight-head prop Matias Diaz coming in and displacing Juan Figallo to the other side of their hooker. Let’s see how successful a move from tight-head to loosie is for the Pumas.
The Boks will be looking to avenge their 2012 draw in Mendoza with Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen being added to a formidable back row which has the potential to become the most feared back row in the world if a fit Willem Alberts stays just that. The backing of Morne Steyn at flyhalf in what may potentially be a swansong rugby championship for the veteran will undoubtedly be a talking point regardless of the result and with Bismarck du Plessis again relegated to the bench (and rightfully so), the shaping of the Bok squad is taking quite a different route to what many would have expected after the Rugby World Cup. Not a bad thing at all for South African rugby – a bad thing for the rest of the world.
So – who’s taking the trophy home in a couple of months? Let us know what you think: