Only a few hours away now. NZ vs SA in the first round is intense! Who are you rooting for?
Kind of ridiculous to have the two best teams in the same pool, but on the flip side, when you consider the next best team in their pool is Italy they should both walk into the knockouts.
The main consequence of this match is the loser will likely have to face Ireland in the quarters.
The other pools will have more interest, because while there's clear favourites in every one, I can realistically see teams pulling off upsets in all of them:
Pool A- Should be an easy top seed for Ireland, but I can see Japan or even Samoa nipping off the Scotts on a good day. Always nice to see the host team go far in the tourny too (unless they're England).
Pool C- The Pool of Death. England, Argentina and France all coming into this World Cup on relative equal standings, with England being the orthodox favourites. Given the erratic nature of how France and Argentina perform, I could see them dropping games to Tonga or even the US (it wouldn't be a first for France to lose to Tonga in a World Cup either, so definitely one to watch).
Pool D- This called almost be called The Pool of Death 2. Australia and Wales should be clear favourites, but they've been two of the more inconsistent teams in recent years, whereas Georgia and Fiji have really been on the up. I can definitely see Georgia maybe sneaking in to the knockouts, and Fiji maybe causing a team some problems.
One of the biggest factors to watch for early in this World Cup is how the teams will deal with the climate and playing conditions. Most of the top teams won't be used to the extreme heat and possible humidity, and it's what most of the concern has been around down here for New Zealanders.
Definitely not as much confidence going into this World Cup for the ABs as there was last time, but on paper you still have to like our odds.