New Zealand (8/13 to win Four Nations) skipper Richie McCaw is looking forward to renewing his competitive rivalry with his opposite number – David Pocock – on Saturday, when the All Blacks take on Australia in the opening clash of the Rugby Championship.
The long standing battle between McCaw and Pocock will take centre stage in Sydney when the current World Cup holders take on the Wallabies, who are the reigning Tri-Nations champions, in the inaugural Test Nations Championship – which sees the arrival of Argentina in a four-way southern hemisphere competition.
The experienced no. 7 – who has captained the All Blacks in a record 61 Tests – has started the mind games by claiming Pocock’s inexperience as a leader may affect his game. It is the first time the two adversaries will meet as skippers.
“It does take time to be able to do both, to get your own game right and be able to lead well,” McCaw said.
“That doesn’t happen overnight. From that point of view, you put pressure on him [Pocock] as a player, then you put pressure on him when the heat comes on. That doesn’t just happen, but we’ve got to make sure of it.”
The Wallabies will be keen to stamp their authority on the Kiwis on home soil, having beaten New Zealand in Brisbane in last year’s Tri-Nations.
The Aussies can be backed at 10/3 to win the tournament, and those odds look very good considering they are current Tri-Nations kings.
Meanwhile, South Africa – who are 10/3 to win the tournament – welcome Argentina to Cape Town for the Pumas introduction to the competition.
Despite, holding home advantage over the Argentine team the Springboks’ backs coach is not taking any chances. Ricardo Loubscher has said the Boks must be wary of a Pumas side they know little about.
“The Argentineans love to run with the ball and if they are allowed to, they can be very dangerous,” he said.
“We’ve looked at the Pampas XV in the Vodacom Cup over the past two seasons and it gives us an idea of what to expect from their backline.
“Their Test team hasn’t played too often, so we do not know too much of them as a unit.”
Performances in recent World Cups show the Pumas have their value in being added to the newest addition of the southern hemisphere tournament and bring reason for wariness from the other three sides.
However, the chance of Argentina winning the championship is almost zero, but at 100/1 some punters may be tempted….after all, stranger things have happened.