The Springboks will power past the Italians in Durban. They’ll win by 30 points.
I am being kind to the visitors in limiting the damage to 30 points.
The Italians will be competitive in the scrums and good in the lineout but they don’t have the class of backs to trouble the Boks.
They are trying to play more expansively but currently don’t possess backline players good enough to dominate the best teams in the world. They also don’t have the natural mentality to play with risk.
The Boks won’t dominate at set phase but I expect them to cut up the Italians through the individualism of players like JJ Engelbrecht, Jano Vermaak and Willie le Roux.
Morne Steyn’s tactical appreciation will also mean the Boks play the percentages in the right areas.
The Bok forwards will be in for a good 80 minute workout and if they embrace the challenge the backs will have the quality of ball to turn the forward slog into a backline feast.
In Auckland I’d love to see the French beat the All Blacks, but somehow I don’t see it happening. I don’t think the French team selected is good enough to win and they will pick a stronger side in the second Test.
The All Blacks have been selected on historical form and not current form. Several players, most notably Israel Dagg, have been woeful in this year’s Super Rugby and I don’t expect them to be much better in the black jersey.
I have the All Blacks to win but in unconvincing fashion.
I also have the Baby Boks to edge England, the British and Irish Lions to beat the Reds by 20 points and the Samoans to beat the Scots.