End of Year Internationals – Week 3 Preview

Super Rugby 2017 Preview | Rugby Union | The Profits

The end of year international Test matches have been a joy to watch so far, despite being televised at absurd hours for Australian and New Zealand fans. Last weekend, a second-string All Blacks outfit trounced Italy before England kept their unbeaten 2016 record in check with a comfortable win over the hapless Springboks. The Wallabies escaped with a one-point win over Scotland, France put 50 on Samoa, Wales narrowly beat Argentina and the Ireland were comfortable winners over Canada. My best bets didn’t go according to plan with two 2-unit plays and a single losing, but as all gamblers know, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Looking ahead to this weekend, there are three games that I am focusing on. Those being: Italy vs South Africa, France vs Australia and the match of the year in my eyes, Ireland vs New Zealand. There are so many personal battles in Dublin that will be worth the price of admission alone, especially with the British & Irish Lions to tour the land of the long white cloud next June. This match will be the toughest Test of the year for the All Blacks. Don’t forget to reach out to me on twitter (@S15_TheProfits) for a chat or any extra insight into any of the matches being played this weekend.

Best Bet 1: South Africa – 19 (vs Italy) @ $1.92 – Luxbet
Best Bet 2: New Zealand -15.5 (vs Ireland) @ $1.92 – Luxbet
Best Bet 3: France vs Australia – TBC (looking closely at Over in Total Points markets once released)

Italy ($9.50) vs South Africa ($1.06)

Italy welcomes South Africa to the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence on Saturday night. Both teams will be seething after their poor performances last week with the Azzurri going down to a second-string New Zealand outfit 10-68 and the Springboks were completely outclassed by a well-drilled England team, 21-37.  Italy have never managed to beat the Springboks, home or away, with the last time the teams played in 2014, the visitors (Springboks) got up 22-6 in Padua.

Italy (2016): LLLLLL

Sami Panico, Ornel Gega, Lorenzo Cittadini, Marco Fuser, Andries van Schalkwyk, Francesco Minto, Simone Favaro, Sergio Parisse (captain), Giorgio Bronzini, Carlo Canna, Giovanbattista Venditti, Luke McLean, Tommaso Benvenuti, Guilio Bisegni, Edoardo Padovani

Reserves: Tommaso D’APice, Nicola Quaglio, Simone Ferrari, Georgio Fabio Biagi, Abraham Steyn, Edoardo Gori, Tommaso Allan, Tommaso Boni

South Africa (2016): LWWWLLLWL

Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Vincent Koch, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Lood de Jager, Nizaam Carr, Willem Alberts, Warren Whitely, Rudy Paige, Pat Lambie (captain), Bryan Habana, Damien de Allende, Francois Venter, Ruan Combrinck, Willie le Roux

Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, Franco Mostert, Oupa Mohoje, Faf de Klerk, Elton Jantjies, Johan Goosen


I’ve been saying it all season. The Springboks don’t know who they are right now or how they want to play. It isn’t clear who the best players in the country are with so many of them out of form, but their poor skillsets and inability to handle pressure was once again exposed by England last weekend. This week they come up against a young and inexperienced Italian side that shouldn’t provide much resistance. Italian rugby seems to be going backwards and I can’t see them being a consistent top-ten team for many years to come.
Italian coach Connor O’Shea has made five changes to the team that was bamboozled by the All Blacks. The two injury-enforced changes see Ornel Gaga (Bennetton Treviso) and Sami Panico (Calvisano) take over from the experienced Leonardo Ghiraldini and prop Andrea Lovotti in the front row. Flanker Francesco Minto returns to the starting line-up ahead of the New Zealand-born Maxime Mbanda and the experienced Giovanbattista Venditti starts on the wing, replacing Angelo Esposito. At the time of writing, the bench was unnamed. It will also be a special moment for Andries van Schalkwyk who will come up against the nation of his birth. The South African journeyman will be playing in his second Test match this weekend.
Embattled Springboks coach Alastair Coetzee has made only a couple of changes to the team that was pulverised by England. The injured Eben Etzebeth has seen Pieter-Steph du Toit shift to the second row with Stormers back rower Nizaam Carr set to start his first Test match. Bryan Habana comes back into the line-up for his 124th cap replacing JP Pietersen who had a sub-par outing at Twickenham. I would’ve like to see Rohan Janse van Rensburg get a shot at inside centre with Damien de Allende failing to live up to the heights of last season, but consistency is clearly what Alastair Coetzee is after at a time when nothing seems to be going their way.
This is the match that the Springboks need to win and win well. They cannot salvage the season, but they need to treat this match like a do-or-die final and pummel the Azzurri. The All Blacks have softened Italy and I expect the Springboks to go for the jugular in Florence on the back of a dominant performance up front.

Predicted result: South Africa to win @ $1.06 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 1: South Africa – 19 (vs Italy) @ $1.92 – Luxbet

Ireland ($7.00) vs New Zealand ($1.10)

The match that everyone will be waiting for takes place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday night where Ireland host New Zealand. Last weekend, Ireland were too strong for Canada (52-21) despite only pulling away in the final quarter. A second-string New Zealand outfit were far too good for Italy in Rome (68-10), but their attention will well and truly be focused on avenging the loss to Ireland two weeks ago in Chicago, their first to Ireland ever in 111 years.

Ireland (2016): DLLWWWLLWW

Jack McGrath, Rory Best (captain), Tadgh Furlong, Donnacha Ryan, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip, Conor Murray, Jonny Sexton, Simon Zebo, Robbie Henshaw, Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney

Reserves: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Paddy Jackson, Garry Ringrose

New Zealand (2016): WWWWWWWWWLW

Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (captain), Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea, Anton Lienert-Brown, Malakai Fekita, Israel Dagg, Ben Smith

Substitutes: Codey Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumauina, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Waisake Naholo


The All Blacks came under scrutiny by their own people for choosing to do the ‘Kapa o Pango’ haka against Ireland in Chicago and showed a ‘lack of respect’ in doing so. It was a day in which Ireland was celebrating the life of Anthony Foley, an Irish backrower and the now former Munster coach, a club he represented for his whole career. From that point, Maori scribes believe that New Zealand weren’t in the game spiritually and up against it, so to speak. To put the loss in perspective, it was the first time since 2004 (South Africa) that the All Blacks have leaked over 40 points in a match. Additionally, New Zealand let in five tries, the same amount they conceded during the entirety of The Rugby Championship this year. But where did it all go wrong? Firstly, at scrum-time, but it is safe to say that that is an area that will be fine-tuned this week with Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock back. System errors, defensive errors, lost ball and inaccuracy at ruck time were also rife and something we would usually say about teams playing the All Blacks. You must give credit to Ireland though with a seriously gutsy performance and they fooled New Zealand by playing a direct approach, finding space out wide for the deeper All Black defenders who were sitting waiting for an aerial bombardment.
The New-Zealand-born Irish coach Joe Schmidt has made just the one injury-enforced change to the starting 15 by bringing in the rampaging and tough-as-nails openside, Sean O’Brien. Jordi Murphy left the field during the first half in the match in Chicago and was replaced by Josh van der Flier. Sean O’Brien’s experience has won him the nod here. The pack that performed so well be under pressure here, but they will be brimming with confidence after such a strong performance two weeks ago. Connor Murray, the man of the match in Chicago has been under an injury cloud all week, but a late fitness test has ruled him eligible to play. His partnership with Jonny Sexton will be crucial, but I am interested to see how Simon Zebo, Andrew Trimble and Rob Kearney perform after their best outing as a trio in Chicago.

Comparing Steve Hansen’s team to the one that played in Chicago, there are three changes to the pack with the world’s best locking pair of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock returning. Jerome Kaino has been forced to withdraw with injury, so Liam Squire retains his spot at blindside flanker after a solid year. Aaron Smith must be feeling the pressure at halfback, but I’m not surprised that Hansen has opted for him in this crunch game. Fly half Beauden Barrett was this week named World Rugby’s player of the year and he will be looking to get the new centre pairing of Anton Lienert-Brown and Malakai Fekitoa involved early. Julian Savea, Israel Dagg and Ben Smith round out the starting 15. Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett and Charlie Faumauina will provide front-row cover with Scott Barrett (brother of Beauden) and Ardie Savea also selected. TJ Perenara will get some game time at halfback and Aaron Cruden and Waisake Naholo complete the match day squad.

All eyes will be on the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night in what shapes up to be the game of the year. This time, the Irish will have an even more vocal home crowd behind them and the home advantage can’t be underestimated against a team playing their second last match of an arduous season. In saying that, it’s the type of pressure that the All Blacks thrive in. Think about it, when was the last time the All Blacks lost a must-win match? Against France at the 2007 RWC quarter-final? The big guns are back for the visitors and the players will be looking to avenge their first ever loss to Ireland less than two weeks ago. I just can’t see lightning striking twice, but then again in 2016 – stranger things have happened.

Predicted result: New Zealand to win by double digits @ $1.10 – Sportsbet

Best Bet 2: New Zealand -15.5 (vs Ireland) @ $1.92 – Luxbet 

France ($1.80) vs Australia ($2.00)

The clash between France and Australia at the Stade de France in Paris will culminate the weekend’s rugby action. France are coming off a big 52-8 against the physical Samoans last weekend in Toulouse, whereas the Wallabies had to dig deep en route to a one-point win over Scotland in Edinburgh. In 2014, the French toured Australia for a three-match series, losing all of them, but they did exact revenge in the most recent match in Paris, which was later that year.

France (2016):  WWLLLW

France: Cyri Baille, Guilhelm Guirado (captain), Uini Atonio, Sebastian Vahaamahina, Yoaan Maestri, Charles Ollivon, Kevin Gourdon, Louis Picamoles, Maxime Machenaud, Jean-Marc Doussain, Virimi Vakatawa, Wesley Fofana, Remi Lamerat, Noa Nakaitaci, Scott Spedding

Reserves: Camille Chat, Xavier Chiocci, Rabah Slimani, Julien de Devedec, Damien Chouly, Baptiste Serin, Camille Lopez, Gael Fickou

Australia (2016): LLLLLWWLWLWW

James Slipper, Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Kane Douglas, Rob Simmons, Scott Fardy, David Pocock, Sean McMahon, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Henry Speight, Kyle Godwin, Tevita Kuridrani, Sefanaia Naivalu, Luke Morahan

Substitutes: Stephen Moore, Scott Sio, Tom Robertson, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm, Lopeti Timani, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Taqele Naiyaravoro


Guy Noves has won just four of eight internationals since he took over as national coach and finished a disappointing fifth in the RBS Six Nations earlier this year. The team that he has named has a bit of a soft underbelly in the pack with Guilhelm Guirado selected as captain. Tighthead prop Uini Atonio is a 140+ kilo beast and Louis Picamoles is a solid number eight that could well get the French on the front foot. France’s strength is in their backline with the likes of Wesley Fofana, Virimi Vakatawa and Noa Nakataci. They will look to spread the ball to the wings so Naivalu and Speight will need on be on their game. In my opinion, Vakatawa is a great anytime try-scoring option as he sharpened his fitness and skills on the Sevens circuit over the past couple of years.
The squad selected by Michael Cheika shows to me that he is concerned about his job. The match against France doesn’t count towards the Grand Slam, something the Wallabies haven’t won since 1983. There are 12 changes in total, with a number of his ‘first choice’ starters either on the bench or not selected. The front row is untested and lacks combination with Rob Simmons a bit hit-and-miss this year. The back row is strong and one that I prefer, as I am a huge fan of Sean McMahon. Will Genia and Quade Cooper reunite their Reds combination in the halves with Kyle Godwin in line for his first Wallabies cap at inside centre. I’m interested to see how he goes because I don’t feel that he’s been in the best form this year, either for the Force (Super Rugby) or the NSW Country Eagles (NRC). The outside back trio of Sefanai Naivalu, Henry Speight and Luke Morahan has the potential to light up the Stade de France, but once again, some of them are lacking game time. There are enough reinforcements on the bench to call upon including Bernard Foley and Taqele Naiyaravoro should the Wallabies need a spark.

With the weather set to be fine in Paris, I can see this being a high-scoring game. There are several untried combinations in both squads and a lot of points will come through the outside backs. I would be inclined to take France for the win, but I’d rather take the overs in the total points market.

Predicted result: France to win @ $1.80 – William Hill

Best Bet 3: France vs Australia – TBC (looking closely at Over in Total Points markets once released)



Glenn has followed rugby union for 19 years and has expert knowledge on the game freely committing to over 500 viewing hours a year. Having played with and against some current Super Rugby players and International superstars, he understands the game, the players and the laws inside out. Having been born in South Africa, spent time in New Zealand and currently living in Australia, Glenn lives and breathes rugby. With so many different tournaments happening around the world simultaneously and the addition of Rugby Sevens to the Olympic program, there are always plenty of healthy betting options available. An obsession, a passion, call it what you will, Glenn enjoys sharing his insight, opinions and predictions with anyone who wants to listen.

Leave a Reply