EOY Internationals – Week 1 Preview

The southern hemisphere provincial season has concluded with only the ‘autumn’ collection of matches remaining in what has been a fascinating season of rugby. The top 10 of world rugby are all in action over the coming weeks with the USA to kick it off on Saturday morning with a match against the high-flying New Zealand Maori in Chicago. Australia will look to continue their recent successes over Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and South Africa will be looking to blood some youngsters in their clash with the Barbarians in London. The final match of the weekend sees the world number one New Zealand All Blacks face Ireland in what will be an intriguing clash at Soldier Field in Chicago. What makes this ‘autumn’ more exciting for British & Irish Lions fans is that there are many spots up for grabs for their tour of New Zealand next year. Not all of these games are televised but don’t forget to follow me (@S15_TheProfits) for game coverage, expert insight or just for a chat and fingers are crossed for another fascinating weekend of rugby.

Best Bet 1: New Zealand Maori -9.5 (2 units) @ $1.90 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)
Best Bet 2: Wales +3.5 (vs Australia) @ $1.90 – Luxbet
Best Bet 3: South Africa -6.5 (vs Barbarians) @ $1.84 – Sportsbet
Best Bet 4: New Zealand -13.5 (vs Ireland) @ $1.86 – Sportsbet

USA ($11.00) vs New Zealand Maori ($1.04)

The first match of the weekend comes to us from Toyota Park in Chicago, where the USA Eagles will host the New Zealand Maori.


Titi Lamositele, James Hilterbrand, Chris Baumann, Nate Brakeley, Nick Civetta, Todd Clever(C), Tony Lamborn, Danny Barrett, Nate Augspurger, Will Holder, Matai Leuta, Folau Niua, Bryce Campbell, Martin Iosefo, Mike Te’o
Reserves:  Joe Taufete’e, Angus MacLellan, Alex Maughan, Matthew Jensen, Al McFarland, Stephen Tomasin, Shalom Suniula , Madison Hughes,

New Zealand Maori (Since 2013): WWWWL

Kane Hames, Ash Dixon (captain), Ben May, Jacob Skeen, Tom Franklin, Elliot Dixon, Kara Pryor, Akira Ioane, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Ihaia West, James Lowe, Tim Bateman, Matt Proctor, Reiko Ioane, Damian McKenzie
Reserves: Joe Royal, Chris Eves, Marcel Renata, Leighton Price, Shane Christie, Brad Weber, Marty McKenzie, Sean Wainui


Looking at the squads, New Zealand Maori have the clear advantage. The USA Eagles coach John Mitchell appears to be experimenting with some of his selections, whereas coach Colin Cooper from New Zealand has been able to select some All Blacks, as they are playing in the same city this weekend. This week John Mitchell called New Zealand Maori ‘the best non-playing Test team’ in the world and I have to agree with him. They are strong up front, the back row is young, but powerful and promising and Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Ihaia West will do a good job in steering their exciting backline around. James Lowe, Rieko Ioane and Damien McKenzie will all playing many games for the All Blacks in the years to come and I feel they are going to wreak havoc on the locals. I expect the visitors to cruise to a comfortable victory in Chicago ahead of their next two matches against Munster (Ireland) and Harlequins (London).

Predicted result: New Zealand Maori to win @ $1.04 – Sportsbet
Best Bet 1: New Zealand Maori -9.5 (2-units) @ $1.90 – Sportsbet (early twitter play)

Wales ($2.18) vs Australia ($1.69)

Australia and Wales will clash at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday night in a rematch of last year’s RWC pool game (Australia won 15-6). Australia are coming off a second place finish in The Rugby Championship, however, they were well short of the All Blacks in Auckland two weeks ago, losing 10-37. This will be Wales first clash of their season, but southern hemisphere fans will remember how close they pushed the All Blacks in June en route to a 3-0 series defeat. Australia dominate the history between these two nations having won the last 11 matches, however, the last ten matches have seen an average winning margin of only seven points.

Wales (2016): DWWLWLLLL

Gethin Jenkins (captain), Ken Owens, Samson Lee, Bradley Davies, Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty, Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar, George North, Jamie Roberts, Jonathan Davies, Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny
Reserves: Scott Baldwin, Nicky Smith, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, James King, Gareth Davies, Sam Davies, Hallam Amos

Australia (2016): LLLLLWWLWL

Scott Sio, Stephen Moore (Captain), Sekope Kepu, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Lopeti Timani, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley, Henry Speight, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani, Dane Haylett-Petty, Israel Folau
Reserves: Tolu Latu, James Slipper, Alan Alaalatoa, Rob Simmons, Scott Fardy, Nick Frisby, Quade Cooper, Sefa Naivalu


It what will be the Wallabies 600th Test match, both teams will be without some crucial members for the first match of the Spring tour. It will be the first match of a potential Grand Slam, something the Wallabies and their fans have been waiting for, for 32 years. In saying that, the Wallabies have only attempted the Grand Slam on two occasions (1984 & 2013). Michael Cheika is under pressure after a substandard year for the men in gold and scribes in the UK are calling this the poorest Australian side in a long time.

Looking at the team named by Warren Gatland, it is evident that they are missing some big names, including their captain Alun Wyn Jones (family bereavement) and Liam Williams (fullback), but they have still been able to name a very experienced lineup. Consistency in selection has been something that Gatland has done for a number of seasons and now his players and his team should start reaping the rewards from it. The pack is strong and settled, and keep an eye on openside flanker Justin Tipuric who has enough pace to be the first arriving player at the breakdown, let alone in open space. Rhys Webb is an enterprising halfback who has a knack of scoring tries and his partnership with Dan Biggar will be crucial, especially scoring points off the tee for the latter. George North, Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny have a great understanding between each other and they will be putting pressure on Israel Folau and company at the back all night long.

Michael Cheika has also been forced to make some changes from the team that was beaten by the All Blacks a few weeks ago due to injury and club commitments. The front row consists of Scott Sio, captain Stephen Moore and Sekope Kepu, with the young locking duo of Rory Arnold and Adam Coleman entrusted again. There is a big change in the back row with David Pocock selected at blindside flanker, alongside Michael Hooper and someone that will strike fear into the Welsh army, Lopeti Timani. The selection of ‘Pooper’ continues, but this really gives the Welsh the opportunity to trouble the visitors at lineout time. Will Genia hasn’t been released from his club commitments, so Nick Phipps takes over and partners Bernard Foley. It’s not going to get any easier for inside centre Reece Hodge this week after he was upstaged by Ryan Crotty and Anton Lienert-Brown in Bledisloe 3. This week, he and his centre partner, Tevita Kuridrani face off with one of the most established partnerships playing in world rugby at the moment: Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies. Henry Speight, Dane Haylett-Petty and Israel Folau continue as the back three.

Things could get ugly for the Wallabies on this tour if they drop this match against the Welsh first up. They will be playing in front of a hostile crowd at the best rugby union venue in the world, something visiting teams don’t have a lot of success with. Last year’s match saw the Wallabies put together their best defensive effort of the season, but they were a team that had settled combinations and had a lot of time preparing together. I just don’t think this Wallabies team can sustain the same amount of pressure this time around and with the experience of the Welsh and their belief that their time is now to break the Wallabies 11-match winning streak over themselves – I think they will do it.

Predicted result: Wales to win @ $2.18 – Sportsbet
Best Bet 2: Wales +3.5 (vs Australia) @ $1.90 – Luxbet

Barbarians ($2.96) vs South Africa ($1.40)

The Springboks start their end-of-year campaign with a match against the Barbarians at Wembley Stadium in London on Saturday night. The Springboks have had an ordinary season in Alastair Coetzee’s first year in charge having only won four of their nine matches played. The Barbarians are an invitational team that plays an expansive and exciting brand of rugby and they only get together once or twice a year. The Springboks and the Barbarians have met on seven occasions previously, with the Barbarians leading the series (4-3) and they have won the last two matches played in 2007 and 2010.

Barbarians (Since 2013):

Reggie Goodes, Akker van der Merwe, Paddy Ryan, Martin Muller, Michael Fatialofa, Brad Shields, Jordan Taufua, Luke Whitelock, Andy Ellis (captain), Robert du Preez, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Richard Buckman, Seta Tamanivalu, Matt Faddes, Melani Nanai
Reserves: Andrew Ready, Schalk van der Merwe, Toby Smith, Sam Carter, Ruan Ackermann, Nic Stirzaker, Richie Mo’unga, Luke Morahan

South Africa (2016): LWWWLLLWL

Tendai Mtawarira, Malcolm Marx, Lourens Adriaanse, RG Snyman, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Roelof Smit, Oupa Mohoje, Nizaam Carr, Rudy Paige, Pat Lambie (captain), Jamba Ulengo, Rohan Janse van Rensberg, Francois Venter, Sergeal Petersen, Jesse Kriel
Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Lizo Gqobaka, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Jean-Luc du Preez, Piet van Zyl, Tiaan Schoeman, Ruan Combrinck


There is no doubt about it – South Africa has had a dismal year. There have been discussions how the ‘aura’ around Springbok rugby has dissipated and with a 44% winning record this season, it is hard to argue with them. Team selections have been questionable, the quota system has played its part, but more importantly, the form of the nation’s top players has been sub-standard. The Springboks have a good opportunity to salvage some pride in their jerseys and the season and that starts this weekend against a makeshift outfit in the Barbarians. Alastair Coetzee has selected a separate squad for this matchup, which is why six players will wear the green and gold jersey for the first time, even though it isn’t an official Test cap.

The Barbarians are known for their enterprising play and they will look to throw the ball around and score tries on Saturday. The squad selected by Robbie Deans is one that exudes X-factor and he has a solid forward pack at his disposal. In particular, the back row combination of Brad Shields and Jordan Taufua are future All Blacks, with Luke Whitelock already capped and selected this week at number eight. The backline will be led by Stormers pivot Robert du Preez, with Richard Buckman and Seta Tamanivalu and exciting centre combination out of New Zealand. The giant Taqele Naiyaravoro and the speedy Matt Faddes are going to be a handful on either wing, as will Melani Nanai, a player who is not afraid to take on the line.

One would expect the structures and combinations of the Springboks to see off the Barbarians at Wembley Stadium. However, the visitors have a very threatening squad and although their lack of cohesion might cost them, they will thrill the crowd on more than one occasion in what should be high-scoring match.

Predicted result: South Africa to win @ $1.40 – Sportsbet
Best Bet 3: South Africa -6.5 (vs Barbarians) @ $1.84 – Sportsbet

Ireland ($13.00) vs New Zealand ($1.03)

Ireland will face New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday morning Australian time in what shapes up to be an interesting encounter. The All Blacks are unbeaten this season and are current tier one world record holders having secured 18 victories in succession. The Irish have had a poor season by their standards losing to England and France in the RBS 6 Nations, before picking up a rare away victory of the Springboks in South Africa. From the 28 matches played between these two proud rugby nations, Ireland have never beaten the All Blacks, but the last time they played in 2013, only a Ryan Crotty try in injury time was the difference.

Ireland (2016): DLLWWWLL

Jack McGrath, Rory Best (captain), Tadgh Furlong, Donnacha Ryan, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip, Conor Murray, Jonny Sexton, Simon Zebo, Robbie Henshaw, Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney
Reserves: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Joey Carberry, Garry Ringrose

New Zealand (2016): WWWWWWWWW

Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jerome Kaino, Liam Squire, Sam Cane, Kieran Read (Captain), Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea, Ryan Crotty, George Moala, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith
Reserves: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tunga’afasi, Charlie Faumauina, Scott Barrett, Squire, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa


The All Blacks are without doubt one of the greatest sporting teams on the planet at the moment as their record speaks for itself. Under the guidance of Steve Hansen and under the captainship of Kieran Read, they enjoy having a target on their back and no team this year has come close to beating them. In fact, they have comfortably beaten all opponents this year by double digits, which makes the line of -23.5 not surprising. Ireland has an opportunity this week to catch the All Blacks off guard at a venue that both teams aren’t overly familiar with.

Joe Schmidt, the Irish coach has announced a solid line-up with hooker Rory Best selected as captain. Devin Toner stands tall in the pack at 2.08 metres and he will certainly look to target a weakened All Blacks second row. Connor Murray and Jonny Sexton have been the preferred halves pairing for Ireland for a number of years now and it will be good to see how the latter compares to Beauden Barrett, who is without doubt, World Rugby’s player of the year. Jarred Payne will come up against the nation of his birth this weekend after being selected at outside centre. On the bench, the Irish have a very youthful and experimental setup. In particular, Joey Carberry has had an outstanding debut season for Leinster and both he and his Ireland under-20’s teammate Garry Ringrose are in line for their international debuts.

Looking at the match-day 23 named by Steve Hansen and company, it is hard to see Ireland pushing them into any areas of great concern. The front row of Moody, Coles and Franks will be around for a number of years, with Coles the form hooker in the world this season. Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock replaced Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield as the best locking combination in the world a couple of years ago and they haven’t looked back. However, unfortunately for New Zealand, they are both unavailable this week. Patrick Tuipulotu will be joined by Jerome Kaino in the second row, with this being Kaino’s first Test start at lock. Liam Squire deserves his spot after some great performances off the bench this season and Sam Cane returns alongside captain Kieran Read. Aaron Smith returns at halfback after a few weeks on the sidelines due to his off-field ill-discipline partnering Beauden Barrett. Ryan Crotty will be joined by George Moala in the midfield with Savea, Naholo and Ben Smith forming a dangerous outside back trio.

The aura of the All Blacks will bring their own fans, but Chicago is known for their Irish community so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the locals get behind the men in green. In saying that, I still believe the All Blacks are going to emerge as comfortable winners because their near impenetrable defence (5 tries in six matches in The Rugby Championship) is matched by an attacking game that no defence in the world appears to be able to contain. Ireland may be in the match early on, but the final 30 minutes is where the All Blacks have been thriving this season and I expect the same to happen in the windy city.

Predicted result: New Zealand to win @ $1.03 – Sportsbet
Best Bet 4: New Zealand -13.5 (vs Ireland) @ $1.86 – Sportsbet



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.

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