OUTRIGHT BETTING ODDS:
Can Anyone Stop The Kiwi's?
The Kiwi’s are overwhelming favourites with the bookmakers to retain their title which would be their third consecutive triumph if they’re the last men standing.
They’ll come into the tournament relatively fresh too, given that many of their players, and those from South Africa, were rested for the part of the Rugby Championship.
Just one win for the All Blacks in that tournament, and a humbling at the hands of old foes, Australia, won’t have bothered them one bit.
More so because in the Bledisloe Cup, played just a few days later against the Wallabies, New Zealand gave a master class in running rugby and world class handling as they handed out a 36-0 defeat.
Coach, Steve Hansen, had admitted in the recent past that there were one or two question marks over players in his side, but a couple of brave decisions later means that he’s entirely comfortable with the majority of the squad.
There are still a handful of slots up for grabs, but Hansen won’t want to tinker too much at this late stage.
There are a number of other nations in great form going into the showpiece, so it’s unlikely they’ll get it all their own way.
After a wonderful Six Nations in which they also did the Grand Slam, Wales will believe that they have every chance of success, whilst England harbour genuine aspirations of adding to their solitary 2003 success.
South Africa can beat anyone on their day, and they’re boosted by the return of Frans Steyn after two years in the wilderness.
Australia, on the other hand, had a terrible 2018, and have been ok if not outstanding this year. Their cause hasn’t really been helped by the sacking of Israel Folau either, after he had his contract terminated earlier in the summer after making homophobic comments on social media.
He was a world class player in Michael Cheika’s side, one of a handful, and his omission is bound to hurt them.
They still have talent, but they’re not the Australia that rugby fans know and love.
New Zealand To Make It A Hat-Trick Of Wins
Although they’ve recently lost the world No.1 ranking to Wales, the All Blacks are going to take some stopping.
Tournament rugby remains their bread and butter and Steve Hansen has ensured that his players will peak, fitness wise, towards the latter stages.
Keep an eye out for lock, Patrick Tuipolotu, a player that wasn’t in the squad a few weeks ago, but has played himself into it after a stunning display against Australia.
Brodie Retallick’s shoulder injury may not have been enough to see him cut from the squad, but he may well have to cede his starting place to Tuipolotu.
In fairness, they have genuine class in every position, and can work the ball to either side with consummate ease.
If Sonny Bill Williams and Jack Goodhue get a run on their direct opponent for example, woe betide whoever is in the way.
New Zealand remain the runaway favourites, and look next to unstoppable at 5/4 with BetRegal.
Jacob Stockdale To Be Top Try Scorer
Since Jacob Stockdale burst onto the scene with Ireland in 2017, during a summer tour, he hasn’t stopped scoring.
In the 19 caps since his debut against the USA - a game in which he opened his account, the 23-year-old has 14 tries.
He’s played all of his matches to date on the wing, and even though he may eventually convert to full-back thanks to his physical attributes, that change is unlikely to happen until after the tournament.
Coach, Joe Schmidt, will leave his post after this World Cup, and will want to go out on a high.
His two victories over the All Blacks will give his side confidence that they’re capable of beating anyone on their day, and it was Stockdale who got the all-important try in one of those wins.
If he’s allowed space and time on the ball, he will thrive and hurt Ireland’s opponents. Even if they manage to close down any gaps, teams will need to double up on him to curtail his marauding rampages.
Easier said than done!
At present, Stockdale is still available for a generous 12/1 to be top try scorer with Boylesports.