After the Whistle – Guy and Sam (Podcast) 24/11/15

After The Whistle’s Guy Cowan and Sam Hewat take you through the weeks sporting results with comments and analysis to keep you up-to-date! This week, the lads take some time to honour and remember the great Jonah Lomu, as well as discussing the movements of Eddie Jones and the retirement of Richie McCaw. The boys also take a look at the upcoming pink ball test between the Blackcaps and Australia as well as Lydia Ko and more!

After the Whistle – Guy and Sam (Podcast) 17/11/15

After The Whistle’s Guy Cowan and Sam Hewat take you through the weeks sporting results with comments and analysis to keep you up-to-date! This week, the lads take a look at whats going on in the world of cricket, a wrap-up of the Kiwis Rugby League endeavours in England, recent highlights from the NHL and NFL as well as some good ol’ fashion Ronda Rousey chat!

RWC Semi-Final: All Blacks Player Ratings

In one of the most physical and brutal matches in RWC2015 so far, the All Blacks narrowly escaped a revenge-seeking South African side to make the World Cup Final for the second consecutive time.

No one was expecting anything less as the two long-time rivals threw every piece of flesh and bone at each other, the All Blacks claiming a 20-18 win.

The game echoed scenes at Ellis Park just months earlier when the All Blacks managed to steal a win in the Rugby Championship with a last minute try; this time, however, things were a lot more conventional.

While the performance wasn’t perfect, it was all that was needed and a win against any South African side should be viewed as a tremendous achievement.

Only missing two tackles the entire game, the All Blacks defended strongly for the full 80 minutes and South Africa never looked like scoring a try.

It’s hard to judge individual performances in what was a solid team effort, but below are the All Blacks’ player ratings for the game.

Joe Moody – 7/10

Moody had a tough task ahead of him – stepping in to replace the injured Wyatt Crockett. Moody, who was flown over from New Zealand last week for the game against France, had already found his feet with 60 minutes of game time in the quarter-final, though a start against South Africa would be the real test. He was quick to the breakdown, cleared the ball well and held up his end of the scrum. One penalty against him when the All Blacks were reduced to seven but aside from that a very complete performance.

Dane Coles – 8/10

Not a bad outing for Coles. Certainly not as involved as he usually is, but still produced clinical lineout throwing and always in the right place at the right time. Unfortunate not to get to a few more grubbers but his tenacity around the park was always at 100%.

Owen Franks – 7/10

Solid at the breakdown, supporting players well and a few decent hit-ups. Also held up the scrum extremely well, especially when Kaino was put in the sin bin for 10 minutes.

Brodie Retallick – 8/10

As always, Retallick was throwing himself at everything. Some great runs, a few monstrous hits, and a couple of lineout turnovers. Combined with Whitelock, the pair made things very difficult for the Springboks and survived the onslaught that came late in the game.

Sam Whitelock – 8/10

Like Retallick, Whitelock was clinical. A few lineouts won off South Africa and extremely effective on defense.

Jerome Kaino – 7/10

Despite Kaino’s dubious yellow card, he still performed to a very high standard. Great work rate, some big tackles, storming runs, and of course scoring one of the All Blacks two tries.

Richie McCaw – 7/10

We could just say ‘work rate’ and leave it there. McCaw was quick to the breakdown as always, disrupting the flow for South Africa and proving heavy in the tackles. Another solid performance from the captain.

Kieran Read – 6/10

Once again, Read struggled to perform for the All Blacks. A few handling errors and some unnecessary penalties around the maul cost him and his teammates some valuable territory and possession. Still supporting his players well and getting to the breakdown quickly but needs to work on his execution and decision making.

Aaron Smith – 8/10

Hard to fault Smith in this game. His passing was superb, his decision making better and his leading helped organise both the forwards and the backline. His kicking was on point, with the exception of one side-footer that came from a turnover.

Dan Carter – 9/10

Another solid game for the kiwi legend. For the first time in 8 years, Dan will start in a World Cup Final (knock on wood!). Carter was solid kicking all but one of his penalties/conversions. A cooly slotted drop-goal could be construed as the difference in the end and once again his passing was sublime.

Julian Savea – 7/10

Hard for ‘the bus’ to really get going in this one, but he attacked the line with speed and added some physicality when the All Blacks needed it most.

Ma’a Nonu – 7/10

Nonu managed to keep relatively busy despite not getting a lot of running ball. He attacked the line and made a few key tackles when the Springboks had half a chance on breakaways. He showed his world class decision making setting up Barrett for the All Blacks second in the corner. A solid performance before coming off after 52 minutes for Sonny-Bill Williams.

Conrad Smith – 7/10

Like Nonu, Smith found it hard to get good running ball, however his tackling can never be faulted and he chased all of the kicks to apply pressure on the South African backs.

Nehe Milner-Skudder – 6/10

Nehe wasn’t able to use his usual razzle-dazzle skills to get around the Springbok defense. He wasn’t great under the high-ball either losing two key kicks to the much more experienced Brian Habana. He almost had a half break in the second half and still managed to make a few metres despite the brick wall in front of him. Disappointing to see him go off injured (again!) but hopefully he will be back for next weeks final.

Ben Smith – 9/10

Ben Smith was flawless. Sensational under the high ball, clinical when it came to making tackles and running the ball, at the line, with speed. A well deserved Man of the Match performance.

Substitutes

Kevin Mealamu – 7/10

Hard for the hooker to get going after coming on with 13 minutes to play; 13 minutes where the All Blacks didn’t get a lot of ball. Still, he made some good tackles while on the pitch and was quick to clear the breakdown.

Ben Franks – 7/10

Like Mealamu, Franks only made it on to the pitch in the final ten. Along with the rest of the subs, he managed to add a fresh dose of intensity which saw the All Blacks defense hold until the 80th.

Charlie Faumuina – 7/10

As potent as always, coming in the 52 minute, Faumuina kept the scrum solid and made sure the defense stuck strong.

Sam Cane – 6/10

Unfortunately, Cane blew his opportunity to make a mark on the game. Knocking the ball on twice almost allowed South Africa to get back in it, if only the All Blacks didn’t step it up during scrum time.

Beauden Barrett – 8/10

Coming on early after Milner-Skudder limped off with an injury in the 49th minute, Barrett made sure he got the job done. He had some good touches with the ball, made some sound tackles and scored the try that would seal it for the All Blacks.

Sonny-Bill Williams – 8/10

Sonny-Bill Williams continues to prove his value at the World Cup and made some great runs to bruise the Springboks a little more this morning. A few half breaks, unable to get his hands free for the offload, but he worked hard and made sure he was in the right place at the right time.

By Sam Hewat

RWC Quarter-Final: All Blacks Player Ratings

The All Blacks churned out an energetic and inspired performance this morning to claim the biggest playoff win in Rugby World Cup history.

The 62-13 defeat over France was their biggest win at the 2015 tournament, and alleviated all fears that the All Blacks haven’t been performing at their best.

Clinical execution, strong discipline and unparalleled skill left the French scratching their heads at every moment of the game.

While some experts might be hesitant to dish out the all elusive 10/10, some deserved it tonight. Below are the player ratings for all 23 players.

1. Wyatt Crockett – 5/10

Unfortunately, Crockett was the only player not to stamp his mark on the game. A few errors at the breakdown as well as giving away an easy penalty right in front of the sticks caused Steve Hansen to sub the tighthead prop after just 28 minutes.

2. Dane Coles – 8/10

Once again, Coles was electric. Quick hands out wide, commitment to the ruck and the ability to break tackles. A brilliant turnover that led to Savea’s third try and the heart of a champion. Having the pacey hooker out wide has proved very successful for the All Blacks.

3. Owen Franks – 8/10

Franks stepped up. First to the breakdown, cleaning out the French every time and allowing Aaron Smith more time and more clean ball. Also proved heavy in the scrum and made a few darts from the ruck.

4. Brodie Retallick – 9/10

What a performance. The young lock has continued to cement himself as the best in the world for his position. A beautiful first try off the back of a chargedown, a few key turnovers in the lineout as well as key support play for the rest of the forwards. Outstanding.

5. Sam Whitelock – 8/10

Whitelock, like Retallick, was everywhere. Solid in the lineouts, good on the kickoffs and a crucial player at the breakdown. Hard to fault his performance at all.

6. Jerome Kaino – 9/10

Kaino had a blinder. A try just after half-time capped off a brilliant game all round. He ran well, supported the forwards and won a few key turnovers.

7. Richie McCaw – 8/10

Richie once again lead from the front. Strong with ball in hand, disrupting the ruck at every opportunity and allowing his backs more time with the ball.

8. Kieran Read – 7/10

Not a bad outing from Kieran at all. A few dropped balls and miss-timed lineouts worked against him, but a great try under the sticks and great support play showed that he still has some left in the tank.

9. Aaron Smith – 9/10

Smith was unlucky not to grab a try this morning, but his performance was just as rewarding. Quick, fast ball to the backs, solid decision making and silky feet meant he set up more than just a few tries. Maybe not making the final pass, but he was involved in all but two of the All Blacks tries.

10. Dan Carter – 10/10

Carter was at his absolute best. Taking on the line, breaking tackles, offloading the ball and kicking well. 7 from 9 on conversions and kicking for touch with purpose. Carter is back.

11. Julian Savea – 10/10

Savea was unbelievable. The young winger scored another hattrick, his second of the tournament, and was duly named Man of the Match. He scored one of the tries of the tournament, if not of World Cup history and was everywhere on the park. Absolutely flawless.

12. Ma’a Nonu – 8/10

Nonu is looking as dangerous as ever. He broke the first tackle on almost every one of his runs. Unlucky not to score a try at the end but a good effort setting up his teammates, and his kicking game continues to improve.

13. Conrad Smith – 7/10

Classic Smith. Wasn’t a standout on the scoresheet, but was everywhere on the park. Strong running, good ball retention and the ability to give his outside backs some more space.

14. Nehe Milner-Skudder – 8/10

Electric as always. Nehe scored a scintillating try, further demonstrating his unparalleled speed and skill as he danced his way to the try line. Unlucky to come off at half-time with an injury, but looking dangerous and will be back for South Africa next weekend.

15. Ben Smith – 7/10

Smith was solid under the high ball. Something the All Blacks have struggled with over the course of the tournament. He supported well and always made sure he was in the right place at the right time. An error at the beginning which almost cost a try, and one or two positional errors means he doesn’t quite get a higher score.

Substitutes

16. Kevin Mealamu – 7/10

Not a bad showing from old Kev. Strong off the bench, good lineout throwing and some impressive tackles made him the perfect substitute for Coles.

17. Joe Moody – 9/10

Moody was phenomenal. Coming on after just 28 minutes, the young Cantab, flown over just days prior, played 50 minutes of unbelievable rugby. An amazing offload to Kerr-Barlow for an All Blacks try proved his talent, and his strength at the breakdown was nothing short of amazing.

18. Charlie Faumuina – 8/10

Faumuina was faultless. Coming on at the 51 minute mark, Faumuina made his presence known. A few big hits, strong physical presence at the breakdown, and a beautiful run and pass to set up Kieran Read under the sticks.

19. Victor Vito – 7/10

We only got to see 15 minutes of Vito, but his performance was solid. A few good tackles and some good runs.

20. Sam Cane – 8/10

McCaw’s worthy replacement. Cane came on and continued to apply the pressure at the breakdown. A few key tackles and a turnover that led to an All Blacks try.

21. Tawera Kerr-Barlow – 9/10

Substituting Aaron Smith is a hard task. Couple that with the questions surrounding the All Blacks depth at halfback, and Kerr-Barlow had a challenge on his hands. However, he slotted in perfectly. Scoring two tries and getting to the breakdown with speed, Kerr-Barlow proved his worth as an All Black.

22. Beaudan Barrett – 7/10

Not a terrible performance by Barrett, but certainly not his best. Two kicks that failed to gain many metres when the All Blacks were pinned back in their own 22 made things tough. Solid defense however and good support play.

23. Sonny-Bill Williams – 8/10

SBW at his finest. A beautiful offload to Nonu on a set play led to Kerr-Barlow’s first and another offload to Ben Smith which almost resulted in a try on the wing. Some sound tackling as well proves that Sonny-Bill is a real threat off the bench.

Team Rating – 9

A complete team performance that saw many questions answered. If the All Blacks can churn out another showing like that against South Africa, and carry that into the final, its hard seeing anyone being able to stand in their way.

By Sam Hewat

RWC Quarter-Final Preview: New Zealand vs. France

In 1999, the All Blacks looked set to progress all the way to their second Rugby World Cup title.

Victories over Tonga and England in the first two rounds followed by a 101-3 thumping of Italy in the final game of pool play sent the All Blacks into the knockout stages with all form in hand.

Then, in the semi-finals, the French crushed the hopes of a nation by defeating the All Blacks 43-31.

Gone was the hope, once again, that the All Blacks would win the Rugby World Cup for the second time in their history.

Then, in 2007, the All Blacks looked unstoppable. They gave away just four tries in all of pool play. They averaged 77 points a game and finished with a points differential of +274.

It was, as the punters put it, a ‘sure thing.’

And who should the All Blacks meet in the quarter-finals? The same team that had forced its foot at their throat just four years prior.

The scene was set. Millennium Stadium. 72,000 fans. Redemption.

Enter Wayne Barnes. And a game that will be forever etched in rugby history.

That forward pass. That yellow card. That crucial penalty.

France had knocked out the All Blacks again, 20-18.

Fast-forward to 2011, and the hoodoo struck again. The All Blacks would face France in the Rugby World Cup final, in New Zealand, for the second time in history.

This time, however, they made no mistake.

8-7. Thank you Tony Woodcock; rise Sir Beaver.

It was but a mere rebuttal to a French onslaught that had lasted almost 25 years.

Now, as if the rugby gods had written their own piece of poetry, the All Blacks and French are to meet again in the quarter-finals.

Once again, Millennium Stadium. Once again, 72,000. Once again, it’s do-or-die.

But this time, the All Blacks have more to prove than ever.

Yes, they defeated the French in 2011 to claim rugby’s most coveted prize, but this means something else.

Northern Hemisphere. Cardiff. Millennium. 2007. It’s got to mean more.

This time, the All Blacks will slaughter the French. There is no doubt.

Unlike the past, the media has played right into the All Blacks hands. It has been a non-stop barrage of questions, accusations and assumptions about the All Blacks ability to rid the voodoo and rectify the loss of 2007. This is exactly what they need.

In 2011, Sir Graham Henry filled the All Blacks dressing room with newspaper cutouts right before the final, of what the media had been saying about 2007. It fired the boys up. And it’ll do the same thing again.

The players have been stiff all week. Dismissing the media bait and focusing on the important things. It is the notion that 2007 will repeat itself that will make the All Blacks more determined than ever.

Cast your mind back to August this year. The All Blacks lost to the Wallabies in Sydney and the response was devastating. Even New Zealand’s own media lost belief in the All Blacks only months out from the RWC. But a week later, the All Blacks demolished the Wallabies in one of the most complete performances of the past four years. They thrive on the challenge. They yearn to prove people wrong.

But what about some more tangible reasons.

Well experience is a start.

The All Blacks boast close to ten returning players from the 2011 World Cup. Mix that with the explosive talent of rising stars such as Aaron Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder and Ben Smith, and you have the perfect recipe. Its something France lacks and it will prove the difference.

As far as form goes, the All Blacks haven’t played great rugby, yet they still hold the most tries scored so far at this World Cup. The fact that they have grinded out convincing wins despite not being at their peak is a testament to just how good this side is.

Couple that with the fact that All Blacks haven’t lost a World Cup match since 2007 means they are still on the top of their game.

As for France, an uncomfortably tight win against Italy in pool play as well as a heavy loss to Ireland mean they are far from being an in-form team.

Now, with the news that the players have sacked head coach Philippe Saint-Andre, things keep going from bad to worse. The locker room is a mess, they lack leadership and cohesion and those are things you need on your side when you face a team like the All Blacks.

Defense is another key area.

The All Blacks missed only four tackles in their pool game against Georgia. An enormous achievement considering the size and strength of the Georgians.

France, on the other hand, are having to make a lot more tackles (an average of 124 per game compared to the All Blacks 88) and average 16 missed tackles a game.

Considering the plethora of attacking prowess in the All Black backline, this will make things especially tough for the French, and it is hard to see their defense lasting the full 80.

Now, all stats and facts aside. All media speculation and betting odds forgotten. This is France. And this is a side that has an unparalleled sense of belief, pride and determination. There is no doubt that they will test the All Blacks to the very limit.

However, this time round, there is just too much on the All Blacks side. All the talent in the squad points towards a complete blowout.

Dan Carter is still fully fit and on his way to winning his first Rugby World Cup, after he missed 2007 and 2011 with injury. Richie, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Mealamu and Woodcock are all hanging up the boots and this is the way they want to go out.

The talent, the heart, the camaraderie, the passion.

This is our time again.

Prediction

All Blacks 43 France 10.

By Sam Hewat

Should All Blacks Fans Be Worried?

Despite the All Blacks’ 43-10 victory over Georgia yesterday morning, which secured them a place in the RWC quarterfinals, it was another unconvincing performance from a side that has failed to produce at this tournament so far.

A grinding win against a physical and tough Georgian side, with very little open play and plenty of stoppages, have allowed some to shift the blame away from the Kiwis.

But three games in, we keep beating the same drum.

Press conference after press conference we are told the All Blacks will step up in the next game, the errors will decrease, the continuity will flow and we’ll score more points.

Press conference after press conference we give credit to a ‘tough opposition that really turned up to play.’

And its beginning to cause concern.

It doesn’t matter how well a ‘minnow’ team steps up, when you’re the best in the world by a country mile and you have the most talent, arguably in World Cup history, you don’t scrape through for a win.

Sure, you might make some mistakes, look a bit rusty and not perform at your best, but with the greatest squad in the world, four years of planned buildup, and an amazing record, it shouldn’t happen consistently.

So, should we be worried?

There seems to be two distinct schools of thought on the issue.

The first says that we can’t read anything into these games. The group games are arbitrary warmups, used to build combinations and practice key strategies. Coupled with the fact that minnow teams are stepping up, we’re having to grind out tough wins, and qualification to the knockout stages is what really matters.

The other school suggests that for all the talent the All Blacks have, their record/form heading into this World Cup as well as the elite coaching staff on their side, the performances they have churned out have been below expectations.

I am beginning to see merit in the latter.

Don’t get me wrong, my loyalty will always be with the boys in black and I still hold true that we have the ability and the determination to win the cup again, however I’ve lost some confidence.

Both Grant Fox, in an interview with Tony Veitch, and Steven Hansen at the after-match press conference, have stressed that there is nothing to fear.

Fox in particular lambasted Veitch for the notion that All Blacks’ fans have something to get scared about and assured everyone that it was all under control.

However, when Veitch asked Fox if he was happy with how the first three games of this tournament have gone, his response was cold; no, we’re frustrated.

And it shows in the stats.

18 handling errors in the game against Georgia. That’s almost an error every four minutes!

From a side that hasn’t lost its No. 1 World Ranking since 2009, with arguably one of the best squads in recent history, its just not good enough.

Couple this with the fact that Carter looked shaky with his kicking, Slade is sidelined with an injury, and TJ Peranara was the backup first-five, it begs the question of whether or not Sopoaga should have been on that flight over to England four weeks ago and brings back thoughts of 2011.

To rebuke some of these claims, both Hansen and Fox have mentioned the fact that, quite characteristically, All Blacks’ fans are always last to applaud another teams performance. If the scoreline is tight, we immediately heap the blame on our own players instead of recognising an astonishing showing of heart and skill from the opposition.

It is true, the minnow teams have stepped up dramatically in this tournament. Not a single game has had a team score more than 65 points, and we don’t even have to mention the upsets caused by Japan and Georgia earlier in the tournament. And yes, Georgia did indeed play well against New Zealand yesterday morning.

However, that doesn’t excuse poor kicking, handling errors, silly penalties and a lack of cohesion.

Those are the areas the All Blacks pride themselves in. Mentally, they are prepared better. Physically, they are prepared better. Strategically, they are unrivalled. So why is it, that we haven’t seen the All Blacks shine?

Is it just a case of ‘its just that sort of World Cup’? Where the big names just aren’t able to play solid rugby against the weaker opposition?

Well we know for a fact that this isn’t true. Both Ireland and Australia are looking more dangerous then ever.

Australia’s performance against England this morning was nothing short of amazing.

They have finally found the first-five they have been looking for in Bernard Foley. They have offensive weapons in Folau, Giteau and Ashley-Cooper, and they have two of the world’s best craftsman at the breakdown, Michael Hooper and David Pocock and ultimately, they have what a lot of the other teams lack; execution and cohesion.

They won the Rugby Championship, they beat the All Blacks in Sydney, and they by far look like the best team at this tournament.

Its not to say the All Blacks won’t do it. And if history is anything to go by, the boys will step up when it matters and they’ll deliver the results.

But you can’t help but feel a little apprehensive, when the best squad in the world is not performing at its best, and the other top teams are just beginning to peak.

In my mind, Steve Hansen and his men have one more game to get it right. If they don’t show a convincing performance against Tonga, it could dent their confidence severely heading into what should be an unparalleled quarter-final challenge.

Still, we believe in them. We believe they have the talent, the skill, the mindset and the heart to win it all.

I’ve still got my money on them, and its not time to sound the alarm just yet, but it would just be nice to give us fans a little peace of mind.

By Sam Hewat

How to Win Big at RWC 2015

With Japan’s shock victory over the Springboks securing one pundit a healthy pay out, we have a look at some of the outrageous amounts of money you could make betting on the unlikely outcomes at the Rugby World Cup with the TAB.

If you place $10 on Japan to continue their winning form all the way to the final, you could net a cool $1,000.

Bet just $1 on Namibia and Uruguay to make the final and you might net $6,502 if the unthinkable happens.

If you fancy Nehe Milner-Skudder’s ability to be the highest points scorer in the tournament you could net $1,004 with a $4 bet. He’s one of the best rugby players ever. And if you back Richie McCaw to be the tournament’s leading try scorer, you could earn an $810 with a $10 bet.

If your $2,000 bet on the All Blacks not leaving the pool stages comes true, you could be New Zealand’s next millionaire.

Having a hard time picking the final two teams? Bet $10 on a South Africa vs Samoa final and you could be $25,010 better off.

***These pay-outs are accurate at the time of writing.

By Stuart Macadam

RWC2015: Argentina – Three Things You Need to Know

Well there is no denying it, the Pumas are easily one of the most improved teams heading into the 2015 RWC.

With a win over South Africa in Durban in the 2015 Rugby Championship, as well as a win against Australia the year before, the Pumas have shown that their inclusion in the Rugby Championship has had great reward.

Now, they have a real chance to push forward as their only real challenge in pool play is the All Blacks, with Tonga, Georgia and Namibia all offering a relatively straightforward match.

Like 2007, the Argentinians could easily produce upset after upset on their way to another semi-final, though the depth of their squad is something that experts are quick to highlight.

Lets take a look at three other things you need to know about Argentina!

1. History

Looking back at RWC history, the Pumas didn’t make the knockout stages of the cup until 1999 (through the quarter-final playoff system), and then in 2003 they failed to make it past pool play again.

However, in 2007 they topped their pool with four wins from four games, making it all the way to the semis before being knocked out by South Africa (the eventual winners).

They then made the quarter-finals in New Zealand in 2011 before being knocked out again.

It’s not an ideal record for the Pumas, but looking back, they had a wealth of tough opponents in each of their pools. In 2003 it was Australia and Ireland, in 1995 England and Italy, in 1991, Wales and Australia.

Now, with New Zealand, Namibia, Tonga and Georgia, its another golden opportunity for the Pumas to progress out of pool play and contest the knockout stages.

2. Knowing the Southern Hemisphere Game

In terms of teams outside the ‘big three’ (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) Argentina is perhaps the most experienced with how those top teams have been playing in the past four years.

Not only have they learned a plethora from the Rugby Championship which will no doubt help them against Northern Hemisphere opponents, but they also have the knowledge and belief that they can topple Australia and South Africa.

What will be interesting is how the Pumas adapt to the Northern Hemisphere style of play. Their forward pack shouldn’t have much trouble with the likes of England, France and Ireland, but the kicking game might play a role and their lack of depth in the backs could also hinder their ability to cope.

3. The Forward Pack

Marcos Ayerza, Ramiro Herrera and Agustín Creevy provide one of the most physical and strongest frontrow at the tournament.

Combine that with Manuel Carizza and Tomas Lavanini in the lock position, who also look comfortable as they were completely dominate over South Africa in Durban, and the Argentine forward pack will give any team a good run.

Steve Hansen has already praised the Argentine forward pack and has shown this by starting six of the eight forwards who played the opening match of the 2011 World Cup.

Their set pieces, a trademark of the Pumas game, will have time to work and create as the forwards provide quick ball.

The only question is whether the Pumas can keep it up for 80mins, or indeed the whole tournament. Many experts say the Pumas will test the All Blacks in the first 60, but will drop off in the last 20 and give up the game.

Prediction

Argentina shouldn’t have any trouble getting out of their pool.

If they are able to perform well against Georgia, Tonga and Namibia, and indeed the All Blacks, they might have the confidence to snatch a quarter-final victory and get through to the semis.

It will be a tough ask however, and most of the money is on the Pumas bailing out in the quarters, which sits in line with their World Rugby Ranking of 8th.

By Sam Hewat