The Five Tough­est Tests of 2018

NZ Rugby World - - The Breakdown -

01 AUS­TRALIA SYD­NEY, AU­GUST 18 The Wal­la­bies were the last team to beat the All Blacks and while they are guilty of in­con­sis­tency, when they are on, they are good.

They move the ball par­tic­u­larly well and are ca­pa­ble of scor­ing tries from deep. While the All Blacks have won eas­ily in Syd­ney in the last two years, it is a no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult venue for them.

02 IRE­LAND DUBLIN, NOVEM­BER 18 The Ir­ish have be­come a gen­uine force in the world game. They beat the All Blacks in 2016 and have man­aged to beat Eng­land in that pe­riod as well as thump­ing South Africa.

We sus­pect they are ac­tu­ally the best team in the North­ern Hemi­sphere de­spite the hype about Eng­land.

Lans­downe Road is a for­mi­da­ble place and the All Blacks have to go there af­ter a bruis­ing en­counter against Eng­land and four weeks on the road.

03 ENG­LAND LON­DON, NOVEM­BER 11 Th­ese guys are good. No doubt about that and at Twick­en­ham, they are go­ing to be con­fi­dent and supremely dif­fi­cult to con­tain.

But the All Blacks have a habit of ris­ing to the big oc­ca­sion and the hype, the ex­cite­ment and the chal­lenge will bring the best out of them.

Will be tight and phe­nom­e­nally phys­i­cal.

04 SOUTH AFRICA TBD, OC­TO­BER 6 No one re­ally knows what state the Spring­boks will be in come Oc­to­ber, but they are never easy to beat in South Africa.

We ex­pect the Boks to be sta­ble and bet­ter this year, and they will know it has been far too long since they beat New Zealand – they haven’t done it since 2014.

05 AUS­TRALIA, YOKO­HAMA, OC­TO­BER 27 Typ­i­cally this third Bledis­loe Cup game has been played a week ear­lier. But this year both Aus­tralia and New Zealand will be af­forded an ex­tra week’s rest once they re­turn from their re­spec­tive over­seas leg of the Rugby Cham­pi­onship.

Should mean they are both rel­a­tively fresh and de­ter­mined to make a state­ment at the ground where the 2019 World Cup fi­nal will be played.

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