The Springboks will beat Scotland by 30-plus points and I’d love to see France do the All Blacks.
I just don’t think France have the belief to beat the All Blacks. They are certainly good enough and the All Blacks, without Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, are not the same proposition. Israel Dagg is not playing well, the midfield has a tired look to it and the back row, with the exception of Kieran Read, looks more Super Rugby than Test rugby.
It is going to be tight in Christchurch but home ground advantage will see the All Blacks home.
The Lions will also be too good for a Waratahs team without their two best backs in Israel Folau and Adam Ashley-Cooper.
What the French and Lions tour so far is showing is that southern hemisphere (Super Rugby) is no more superior than anything in the English Premiership, French Top 14 or European Cup in terms of quality and intensity.
There is very little difference in quality between the two hemispheres currently, even at under 20 level. The baby Boks scraped past England and France and New Zealand were desperate in edging Ireland 31-26.
The big boy Boks play Italy in Nelspruit in the game that has the most interest to South Africans and it is a catch 22 situation for the Boks. If the Boks don’t win by a big score there will be disappointment. If they succeed easily there will be a dulling of the celebration.
This quadrangular is decent preparation for the Rugby Championship but that is all it is. Italy, Scotland and Samoa are glorified practise runs, especially when these games are played in South Africa and even more so when played at altitude.
Heyneke Meyer will be more interested in the progress of JJ Engelbrecht at outside centre and in Willie le Roux’s performance at fullback than he will be with the margin of victory.
It will be the quality of performance that will interest him and it will also be the defensive effort that will require the greater intensity. The Boks can score points but they will want to concede as few as possible.
The defence against Italy was composed but never jolting. It didn’t have to be.
The attack was explosive in the first 20 minutes and last 10 minutes. It is very difficult for any side when they know they will win and are expected to win well.
Marcel Coetzee fills in for the unavailable Francois Louw, but personally I’d have liked to see Heinrich Brussow playing. It isn’t going to happen which doesn’t mean I won’t stop expressing the view.
Bismarck du Plessis’s return will also be interesting. Adriaan Strauss has certainly advanced his Test credentials in Du Plessis’s absence in the last year. Du Plessis will be eased back over the next few weeks and expect to see the old Du Plessis in the Rugby Championship. Not before that.
I also have Samoa to beat Italy in the early game, but frankly who in South Africa cares?