I can’t believe it, the World Cup is about to kick off!!!
I’ll be doing previews of every game during the World Cup and here are the first three games to watch over the weekend.
Obviously all the attention will be on Australia vs New Zealand but the way the competition is set up, every game is vital for every team to win. If you lose at this early stage, you are basically screwed.
I can’t wait to see PNG and France play, both teams are very entertaining to watch.
So lets get stuck into the first World Cup games played in 8 years!!!
England vs Papua New Guinea
England have spend the last two weeks trying to convince the world that they feel confident, and the heat in Townsville in their first game against PNG will not be a factor.
Both are ridiculous.
Australian NRL clubs always find the humidity in Townsville tough to deal with, and thats in winter! So for England to say they will be ok because “Its gets warm in Leeds too” is just funny.
PNG will be must better prepaired for the hot conditions, infact they will find it a bit easier to deal with than usual conditions they have train in at their PNG training base.
PNG has improved a lot in the last few years with a series win over France last year on the back of a draw against an Australian Prime Ministers XIII that was full of Aussie test players.
England have had a good preperation training wise but for the life of me I don’t know why they left it so late to come to Australia.
England should win this game, but I think its going to be a real wakeup call for the Poms. They have struggled in their first games outside of their European base for many years and PNG are the type of team you just don’t want to face when you are not in the groove.
PNG will offer a very tough hit out for England and will answer a lot of questions about where they stand.
I’d like to see England try and few different combinations if they find themselves well ahead. I’d like to see McGuire and Burrow in the halves with leon Pryce at fullback, because quiet frankly, Paul Wellens is well below even Englands test standards.
For PNG if they can win this games its going to be on the back of their tough play and the conditions getting to England.
I’d love to tip PNG to win, but I’ll go with England….cant remember the last time I said that! My Tip: England by 22
Scotland vs France
France will need to get off to a good start here if they want to move on in the competition. A loss here against Scotland and their World Cup is over before it really began.
Scotland are a bunch of lower grade English players with a few Aussies thrown in, I don’t expect much at all from them.
This will be a game to watch to see how France look early on. They have always been able to throw the ball around and they like to play physical, but now many of them have professional level training it will be interesting to see how that effects them at Test level.
France should win pretty easily, they have a better lineup with a lot of raw talent. Mt Tip: France by 20
Australia vs New Zealand
In the words of Phil Gould, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!”.
The Kiwi’s have had a very good preperations for their opening game of the World Cup. It was low key, it involved a huge win over Tonga, and while people talked about how good Australia looked and England talked about how good England looks, the Kiwi’s just went about things and got read for a big game.
Then Graham Lowe decided to open his big moth saying the worlds two best front rowers, Petero Civoniceva and Steve Price, look old and out of gas.
I wrote an article last year about giving Australian opposition motivation going into a Test match against them, and after the former NZRL CEO said of Australia “I think they’re vulnerable and we’re going to find out how tough they are.” Australia responded with a record setting 58-0 win in New Zealand a few days later.
Motivating an Australian side is one thing, but questioning the heart of a Queenslander is on another level all together.
I’m sure Lowes comments went down like a Lead Balloon in the Kiwi camp, but for Australia, its motivation they didn’t need. On the back of the comments, New Zealand WILL NOT win.
The Kiwi’s need Benji Marshall to step up and control the attack in this World Cup, otherwise they are stuffed. Another big indicator for the Kiwi’s will be the play of Steve Matai. He is one of the most influensual players on any team he plays in and he will cause problems for the outside backs of opposition teams.
For Australia, they will be looking at their backline combinations, mostly on the wings where there is an opportunity for David Williams to step in if Joel Monaghan doesn’t set the world on fire.
I think Ricky Stuart is looking to rotate his forward pack a little until the Semi’s, mostly his back row, so spots are on the line.
Before Lowes comments I though Australia would win by a bit over 10 points. Now, its all changed. My Tip: Australia by 32
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