While the tag of ‘formality’ can be levelled at a few World Cup pools, nowhere is this more applicable than in Poll C, where New Zealand seemingly just have to turn up to win all their matches.
The All Blacks are priced up as 1/66 favourites to win their pool, with Argentina their nearest rivals, in the betting at least, at odds of 14/1.
And that is where the tests seem to end, with Tonga (150/1), Georgia (500/1) and Namibia (1000/1) travelling to England purely to make up the numbers.
Whether such an easy group means the reigning champions will be at a disadvantage come the knock out stages – England for instance will have already played Australia and Wales in Pool A, remains to be seen but coach Steve Hansen would no doubt have preferred a stiffer test.
NATIONS: NEW ZEALAND, ARGENTINA, TONGA, GEORGIA, NAMIBIA
FIRST GAME: TONGA V GEORGIA – SEPT 19TH
FAVS: NEW ZEALAND @ 1/66
DARK HORSES: ARGENTINA @ 14/1
NO HOPERS: NAMIBIA @ 1000/1
Look out for: This potential trump card
Winger Waisake Naholo was a surprise inclusion in the All Blacks’ squad after initially being ruled out with a broken leg. With just 50 minutes of All Black action under his belt the Highlanders star is something of an unknown quantity but as the top try scorer in Super Rugby last season the 24-year-old will be feared.
Look out for: This guy’s pace
They may not be world beaters but Argentina can rely upon the electric pace of Juan Imhoff to see them through. The winger-cum-full-back ran riot against South Africa in August as his hat-trick helped the Pumas to their first ever win over the Springboks.
Look out for: Crunching tackles
There isn’t much finesse about Tonga’s game but what they lack in creativity they make up for in brutality. This aggressive style has landed them in hot water at previous World Cup but with many of the more experienced players opting out of the squad expect this relatively inexperienced bunch to hit hard.
Look out for: A potential record breaker
Vasil Lobzhanidze is an 18-year-old scrum-half currently plying his trade in the Georgia Championship for RC Armazi Tbilsi. The youngster already has six international caps but will set the record for youngest player at a World Cup if he gets the nod to play – eclipsing USA man Thretton Palamo, who made his bow at 19 years and eight days.
Look out for: Jacques Burger
Namibia’s amateur players will look to the handful of pros in their squad for leadership and no one is better placed to offer that than the hard-hitting Saracens flanker. His tireless displays earned him a vote as one of the top five players in 2011 and he will be everywhere once again for the pool minnows.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPOTLIGHT
All Blacks – but not as you know them…
— Beauden Barrett (@beaudenbarrett) September 11, 2015
From cub to full-grown Puma …
Same pose – different suit
— willhelu (@willhelu) September 12, 2015
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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