It’s not like this all-conquering New Zealand rugby side needed any assistance to win a third straight Rugby Championship, but key injuries to their biggest challengers virtually guarantees a hat-trick of southern hemisphere triumphs.
Most notably, scrum-half Fourie du Preez will miss six months after ankle surgery, to join Jaque Fourie, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Arno Botha, Pierre Spies and Flip van der Merwe on the injury list.
Boks coach Heyneke Meyer added: “It’s a massive blow to lose yet another world-class player and a key player due to an injury.”
Having just put England to bed 3-0 in their recent Test series on home soil, to extend their winning run to a record-equalling 17 matches, the All Blacks were always going to be favourites for the 2014 edition of the Rugby Championship.
The World Cup faves are placed at 1/2 for victory in the southern hemisphere’s version of the Six Nations by Ladbrokes, arguably one of the better odds-on punts available.
For those unfamiliar with the format, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa all play each other once home and away in a mini-league scenario, with bonus points added for tries.
South Africa – who lost twice to New Zealand, but won all of their other four games at the 2013 – are once again considered the best of the rest at 5/2, with Australia 11/2 chances.
Whipping boys of the last two tournaments Argentina, with 12 losses to their name, are pretty-much unbackable as 150/1 outsiders.
The Springboks, who recently completed an impressive double over a touring Wales side before annihilating Scotland 55-6 in Port Elizabeth, were shaping up well to test the Kiwis resolve in this cup competition.
However, sadly for the men in green and gold, their squad have since been inflicted with a raft of injuries.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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