Island News

How are they shaping up for the 2011 RWC?

Written By : SHAUN EDWARDS The Guardian . New Zealand remains the favourites to win next year’s Rugby World Cup, but they are over-reliant on Dan Carter. Cast your minds
13 Nov 2010 12:00

image Written By : SHAUN EDWARDS The Guardian . New Zealand remains the favourites to win next year’s Rugby World Cup, but they are over-reliant on Dan Carter.
Cast your minds back a year to some advice about what you might do with any spare fiver you had knocking about. Back then you could have got Australia at 10-1 to win the World Cup.
Today it’s 4-1. That win in Hong Kong might not have knocked the All Blacks off the top spot in the world rankings organised by the international board, or with the bookies.
But I bet it set alarm bells ringing in Wellington and Auckland because while Australia always seem to go to World Cups nearing peak form, New Zealand have a habit of leaving their best behind.
With that in mind, the autumn internationals about to start, less than a year to go before New Zealand 2011, and all of the top 10 nations playing on our doorsteps, I’d like to compare my own judgment with the IRB ranking and what the bookies are saying.
1 New Zealand
World ranking 1 World Cup odds 8-11
Racing favourites and rightly so. After 15 successive wins you shouldn’t suffer too heavily because the side you’ve beaten 10 times on the bounce edges a game you should have won.
That said, Hong Kong and the Australia victory once again highlighted the All Blacks’ reliance on Dan Carter and Richie McCaw.
With Carter off the pitch, they shipped 12 points in 13 minutes and with memories of 2007, Cardiff and France still fresh in the memory, the whole of New Zealand will be praying that their fly-half and the captain both stay fit.
2 Australia
World ranking 2 Odds 4-1
If last weekend’s pack – particularly the props Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander – stay fit and the set-piece produces enough good ball, Australia are the most exciting side around – with two inspirational play-makers in Quade Cooper and Matt Giteau, and runners all over the place.
How they go when they’re on the back foot, however, especially in the wind and rain of autumn in Europe, is another matter.
3 South Africa
World ranking 3 Odds 5-1
Sixes or sevens would be better odds for the world champions, who have had a poor Tri Nations – suffering injuries to key men.
Almost a full team will be back home in the sick bay when the Boks kick off in Dublin tomorrow, but by World Cup time John Smit, Jaque Fourie, Fourie du Preez, Heinrich Brüssow, JP Pietersen, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Butch James, Schalk Burger and co will all be back. They are an ageing team, but World Cups tend to be won by experienced packs.
4 France
World ranking 4 Odds 10-1
The delight of a Six Nations grand slam went down the drain during the summer, with humbling defeats in South Africa and Argentina.
Marc Lièvremont has been muttering about players who don’t have the lifestyles of Test players.
The fly-half François Trinh-Duc will miss the autumn matches with hamstring problems and soon after the coach had spoken about more experimenting, he called up the uncapped Racing Métro fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski. Interesting times.
5 England
World ranking 6 Odds 14-1
The IRB has Ireland at five but I think the bookies are about right. England are obviously confident, judging by their defence coach Mike Ford’s observations on the high-scoring Tri Nations, and are starting to look settled.
Saturday’s side to play the All Blacks has strength and some exciting runners, even if they are not the centres.
The summer win in Sydney will have done a lot of good, even if Giteau did kick away a few points and Australia were without those two important props.
6 Wales
World ranking 9 Odds 33-1
Me and the board disagree again, but theirs is a purely mathematical rating and I’d admit that since 2008 we haven’t done ourselves justice.
However, when we are at full strength and the likes of Jamie Roberts and Gavin Henson are about …
7 Argentina
World ranking 8 Odds 50-1
Disagree again, but from five to nine in my ratings the places are pretty interchangeable.
I set store by World Cup performance, which is why I have Argentina above Scotland and Ireland despite losing a summer series to the Scots.
Three things are certain about the Pumas in 2011; they’ll have a strong pack, a good kicker and they’ll play for each other.
8 Ireland
World ranking 5 Odds 25-1
After three consecutive Test defeats, plus losses to the Barbarians and the Maori, tomorrow is the time for Ireland to turn things around against the weakened Springboks.
However Paul O’Connell won’t be back until Christmas and I know from the Lions experience what an inspirational guy he is.
9 Scotland
World ranking 7 Odds 66-1
The board has them in seventh place, but I agree with the bookies. Since Andy Robinson took over things have been moving in the right direction with a win over Australia last autumn, the Six Nations defeat of Ireland and that summer tour. Now comes consistency.
10 Samoa
World ranking 11 Odds 500-1
The change in refereeing styles will benefit the likes of Samoa, Fiji (ranked 10th with the board and with odds of 1000-1) and possibly Tonga at the expense of sides such as Italy, who need a style overhaul.
A lot of the islanders play in New Zealand and Australia, where the new “rules” have been around for a whole season now.

Five Square

Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.

By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.

Fiji Sun Instagram