The Springboks will win by 20 points in their Castle Rugby Championship opener against Argentina at Soccer City.
Much has been made of New Zealand World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry’s involvement with the Pumas as a technical consultant. Henry has encouraged a more embracing ball in hand game. He has urged the Pumas to develop more variety to their game and be more expansive in their thinking and in their play.
I believe it will be to their detriment because Argentina is not New Zealand. The players psyche is different, their mindsets, their history and their approach to the game has always been closer to the Boks than New Zealand.
The players are also similar in many respects to the South Africa; more so than New Zealand.
South Africa has always been viewed as the big brother of Argentina rugby. Henry’s mindset on rugby does not relate to the South African way.
Argentina will be trying different things against the Boks and they will be out of their comfort zone.
The stunned the Boks in Mendoza last year to draw 16-all in a match they should have won. They bullied a very inexperienced Bok pack and they profited from the Boks not playing a specialist openside flank option.
The Boks are a better side now than they were this time last year. I don’t believe the Pumas are any better than the side that competed heroically in the early stages of their inaugural Rugby Championship debut season.
The Boks will match the Pumas physicality but also offer a greater backline attacking threat.
This game will be similar to the Boks performances against the Italians and Samoans. There will be periods in the game when the visitors will be competitive and possibly even dominant but they will work long and hard for their points, whereas the Boks have the capacity to score 14 points in a couple of minutes.
Traditionally the Boks have on average won by 20-plus points when hosting the Pumas. The script won’t change at Soccer City.
*In the Saturday morning game (SA time) I am picking the All Blacks to win, but it is going to be a scrap and they won’t win by much. The All Blacks have mirrored the Crusaders in 2013. They haven’t backed up a Test performance and some of their players are looking over the hill.
Hookers Keven Mealamu and Andrew Hore look and play like pensioners. Tony Woodcock, playing his 99th Test, has shuffled towards the century of appearances and Richie McCaw, for all his greatness, is undercooked going into this Test and will not be the influence he has been for the last decade.
Ma’a Nonu has battled form and injury and any All Blacks team is weaker without Dan Carter.
The Wallabies, at home, with a new coach, won’t get a better chance to run the All Blacks close or beat them.
If the Wallabies win one against the All Blacks this season then don’t be surprised if it happens in Sydney on Saturday. This said I am not convinced they’re good enough at this stage to get the win and the All Blacks’ winning habit should see their edge it.
The last time the two sides met was in Brisbane last year and the match ended in an 18-all draw.