Weekend teams and predictions

All eyes on new boys Oupa and Cobus, but the scrap between Coetzee and Hooper might define the result. Catch the weekend’s teams, times, refs, odds, weather, community picks and Tank’s predictions.

Tank Lanning

Sure there was some chatter around Aaron Cruden’s boozy night that sees him missing the next two All Black games, while the birth of Dane Cole’s little one sees him returning home a week early. But the fact of the matter is that there are plenty of people on this earth who regard their replacements, Bauden Barrett and Kevin Mealamu, as being better than the two players now stationed on the other side of the earth. The stream of players coming out of the land of the long white cloud is just astonishing. And while the Pumas have certainly announced themselves as real players amongst the bearded grizzlies at the top of the rugby pile, I cannot see the All Blacks not dishing up a victory for their skipper, who joins Colin Meads as the most capped All Black of all time.

And that would earn the New Zealanders their third straight Rugby Champs trophy … with a round of games still to be played!

Which will perhaps lift the pressure on the Boks slightly. Knowing how slim their chances are of taking home the silverware this year, here’s hoping Heyneke Meyer gets his wish for a dry field, and that the Boks to continue along the path that sees them trying to keep the ball in hand a little more.

That said, this is a weak Wallaby tight five, especially given their forced selection of Saia Fainga’a at hooker, and their choice to keep Benn Robinson on the bench. Fainga’a is soft and has not looked good enough for Super Rugby, let along Test rugby, while James Slipper – very good round the park – is not in the same league as Robinson as a scrummager. It is vital that the Boks still use their brute force and muscle to shake this Wallaby pack around a little, before taking out wide.

Also, underestimate Israel Folau at your peril, but the visitors, instead of building on what the Waratahs produced in Super Rugby, seem to have reverted to their game plan of giving the ball to Folau in the hope of the magic man producing the goods. Something he ordinarily does, but against a seriously stingy Bok defence, I think he will find that rabbit harder to find!

This is a well-balanced and strong Bok side. I might have been inclined to start with Bismarck given that they only have Coetzee playing to the ball this week, but having him as an impact player is also pretty damn useful. Oupa deserves his start. He was better than Lood de Jaager for the Cheetahs and will be able to take that next step. He has had 10 weeks out the game though, and might well be a little rusty.

Here’s hoping that Meyer has given Hougaard a smidgen more freedom, and that the Bok scrumhalf gets back to playing the game that made him a Bok in the first place. And here’s hoping Cobus Reinach gets more than the obligatory 2 minutes at the death. He has the potential to give to the Boks what Nic Groom gives to the Stormers. Life!

To the weekend then …

Saturday 27 September

17h00 – South Africa vs Australia at Newlands

Prediction: SOUTH AFRICA to beat Australia by 18

SuperBru community: SOUTH AFRICA (94%) to beat Australia by 8

Oddschecker: SOUTH AFRICA (1/3) to beat Australia (14/5)

Weather: Sunny with a high of 14 degrees and a low of 7 degrees

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Mathieu Raynal (France)

TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

Assessor: Lyndon Bray

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Bench: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.

Bench: 16 James Hanson, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Nic White, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Rob Horne.


Sunday 28 September

00h40 – Argentina vs New Zealand at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata

Prediction: NEW ZEALAND to beat Argentina by 16

SuperBru community: NEW ZEALAND (96%) to beat Argentina by 13

Oddschecker: NEW ZEALAND (1/8) to beat Argentina (7/1)

Weather: Sunny with a high of 18 degrees and a low of 12 degrees

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Leighton Hodges (Wales)

TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

Assessor: Clayton Thomas

Argentina: TBA

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Wyatt Crockett

Bench: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Cory Jane