After weeks of waiting for a good footy fix, the Four Nations is finally here!
It has been interesting to see the way the four teams have approched the series in the last ten days.
Australia has been quietly confident, but you get a sense of them brooding on that World Cup Final loss last years. There has been some slight back and forth between them and New Zealand, but both teams know what level to keep the verbal barbs at so as to not inflame each other going into the first game.
New Zealand, well they are confident too, but they know this series for them is also about longer term success. They are in a great position, if they lose, no one will bat an eyelid. If they win, well they are a champions side that is continuing dominance over Australia in big competitions.
France know they have a lot of rebuilding to do and are just happy to be here. No one expects them to get within 40 points of the other three sides, so they will take what they can out of this experience and we’ll see how they go in the future.
Then there is England…..
England have looked to the future, finally, and picked an inexperienced and I would suggest experimental side. They have talked about low expectations and how good their opponents are, but the honest truth is many English fans think they are right in with a shot of winning this competition.
So with all four teams ready to let rip, lets make some predictions for the first round of games and the tournament as a whole!
Australia vs New Zealand
Two things to keep in mind about this game. Firstly, both teams have just arrived in England so jet lag will be a problem. In my experience it takes a good two weeks to be over it to any extent and a good month to be completely 100%.
The other thing to remember is that New Zealand get better as these type of competitions go on. So the team you see in this first game will not be the same side you see in the Final.
I think Australia will have to grind away early on, and the backline will take some time to settle into the match, with the soft English pitch being something to get used to, but in the end I think the Kangaroos will win comfortably. My Tip: Australia by 14
England vs France
France will put up some fight early on but this really should be a no contest. I think we’ll see England quell the French resistance after about 15 minutes and run away with a big….did I just use the word quell?
Anyway, the think England will be looking for in this game is a good kicking game in regards to finding open space and therefor dominating field position, a good completion rate and they need their younger players to really step up and own their jerseys. My Tip: England by 44
Now lets look at some fun predictions…..
Number Of Times Sam Burgess Is Rated Highly By The Aussies According To Sky: 478
Any time he gets anywhere near the ball I fully expect to hear how highly Australia regards Sam Burgess and how we think he is possibly the best prop in the world and how we want him to donate sperm because we want all of our women inseminated by his fertile super seed.
Hey, it will make a difference to the scatter gun approach the Cronulla Sharks are using on our women!
Fui Fui Moi Moi Will Not Be At His Best
I just have a feeling that good old Fui Fui will not carry his devastating form for the Parramatta Eels into this tournament. There has been a lot of hype heading into his first run with the Kiwi’s since 1997, with some idiots suggesting he is the best prop in the world. I love the big fella, but I just get a feeling in my guts that he won’t be as explosive over there in England.
Michael Jennings Will Make England Shit Three Different Colours And Still Not Play In The Final
I think when he finally gets a run it will be on the wing, and when that happens, I think he is going to just explode onto the test arena and score a bag full of tries. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if come the final he is watching from the stands as Tim Sheens goes with a different lineup against New Zealand.
Jamie Peacock Will Say Something Embarrassing, But Funny
Going into last years World Cup it was a suggestion that the weather in Leeds is very similar to the weather in Townsville. While his suggestion last week that a key factor in Englands chances of beating Australia would be, rain, I still think he has a true classic brewing in that stumbling, bumbling vocabulary he has.
Kieran Foran Will Be A Sensation
Every time I have seen him play he has really impressed me. New Zealand have been dying for a young half to partner the great Benji Marshall and I think this is the players to do it.
Bobby Goulding Will Get On Really Well With French Players, Officials And Media
I’m just kidding, but how fan is it going to be to watch this train wreck unfold in such a high profile competition. I don’t rate France, but I imagine the French players whispering to each other in their pompous, contrived, guttural language about how this short pommy bloke has no idea what he is on about!
England Will Crash And Burn
They will work themselves up on the back of a big win over France, and it will all come crashing down against Australia. I don’t think it will be just a big win, I think it will be one of those Dream Team Basketball type performances with the likes of Slater, Inglis and Hayne playing some jaw dropping football.
Australia vs New Zealand Final
It will be a great final and by this stage New Zealand should be just about ready to play their best football. I really, really like the look of this Kiwi side. Something tells me they are so well balanced and with some runs under their belt……still, my head is saying that tipping anything but an Australian win would be stupid!