Rugby World Cup Pool B
Rugby World Cup Pool B

Pool B: Battle of the big guns

Pool B - New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Canada, Namibia

 

What to expect: The blockbuster opening pool match between New Zealand and South Africa will decide the group, with both teams expected to qualify for the quarters. The last four matches between the pair have been decided by two points or less with this year's Rugby Championship clash ending in a 16-16 draw. Italy would be hoping to spring an upset but haven't the class of the big two.

Match Dates: (AEST until Oct 6 when it becomes AEDT)

Saturday, September 21 

NEW ZEALAND v SOUTH AFRICA: 7.45pm at International Stadium, Yokohama

Sunday, September 22

ITALY v NAMIBIA: 3.15pm at Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Osaka

Thursday, September 26

ITALY v CANADA: 5.45pm at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium

Saturday, September 28

SOUTH AFRICA v NAMIBIA: 7.45pm at City of Toyota Stadium

Wednesday, October 2

NEW ZEALAND v CANADA: 8.15pm at Oita Stadium

Friday, October 4

SOUTH AFRICA v ITALY: 7.45pm at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa

Sunday, October 6

NEW ZEALAND v NAMIBIA: 3.45pm at Tokyo Stadium

Tuesday, October 8

SOUTH AFRICA v CANADA: 9.15pm at Kobe Misaki Stadium

Saturday, October 12

NEW ZEALAND v ITALY: 3.45pm at City of Toyota Stadium

Sunday, October 13

NAMIBIA v CANADA: 2.15pm at Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium

 

Beauden Barrett is set to have a huge impact on the World Cup. Picture: AAP Image/Christopher Jue
Beauden Barrett is set to have a huge impact on the World Cup. Picture: AAP Image/Christopher Jue

 

New Zealand

Best Finish: Champions (1987, 2011, 2015)

Captain: Kieran Read

Coach: Steve Hansen

Betting: $2.25 to win the tournament, $1.25 to win the pool

History: In a league of their own for the last decade, the All Blacks are the only side to win the World Cup three times so will start strong favourites, as they always do, but it's worth remembering there was a 24-year stretch when they fluffed their lines every time.

Player to watch: Beauden Barrett. The most versatile and creative matchwinner in the game, who has twice been named world player of the year.

Forwards: Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Kieran Read (captain), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd.

Backs: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith.

Our prediction: 1st in the pool

 

South Africa

Best Finish: Champions (1995, 2007)

Captain: Siya Kolisi

Coach: Rassie Erasmus

Betting: $5.50 to win the tournament, $3.75 to win the pool

History: Banned from the first two World Cups because of apartheid, famously won on home soil in 1995 with Nelson Mandela presenting the trophy. Won again in 2007 and finished third last time despite an embarrassing loss to Japan in the pool stages.

Player to watch: Malcolm Marx. Rated as the best hooker in the world, the 25-year-old packs a punch, both in the set pieces and in the loose. A former flanker, he has a very high turnover rate and is a regular try scorer.

Forwards: Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Kieran Read (captain), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd.

Backs: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith.

Our prediction: 2nd

 

 

Carlo Canna will (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Carlo Canna will (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Italy

Best Finish: Pool stage

Captain: Sergio Parisse

Coach: Conor O'Shea

Betting: $1,500 to win the tournament, $251 to win the pool

History: Have played at all eight previous World Cups but never made it out of the pool stage, finishing 3rd seven times, winning 11 of their 28 matches.

Player to watch: Sergio Parisse. Italy's evergreen skipper will make a record equalling fifth appearance at the World Cup. The 35-year-old No. 8 joins Samoa's Brian Lima and Italy's Forwards: Mauro Bergamasco as the only players to achieve the feat.

Forwards: Simone Ferrari, Andrea Lovotti, Tiziano Pasquali, Nicola Quaglio, Marco Riccioni, Federico Zani, Luca Bigi, Oliviero Fabiani, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Dean Budd, Federico Ruzza, David Sisi, Alessandro Zanni, Maxime Mbanda, Sebastian Negri, Sergio Parisse (captain) Jake Polledri, Abraham Steyn.

Backs: Callum Braley, Guglielmo Palazzani, Tito Tebaldi, Tommaso Allan, Carlo Canna, Tommaso Benvenuti, Michele Campagnaro, Luca Morisi, Mattia Bellini, Giulio Bisegni, Jayden Hayward, Matteo Minozzi, Edoardo Padovani.

Our prediction: 3rd

 

Canada

Best Finish: Quarterfinals (1991)

Captain: Tyler Ardron

Coach: Kingsley Jones

Betting: $1,500 to win the tournament, $2,500 to win the pool

History: A consistent second tier in the early tournaments, making the quarterfinals against New Zealand in 1991, the Canadians have slipped back in recent years, winning just one of 12 matches from the last three World Cups and having to qualify through the repechage this time.

Player to watch: Tyler Ardron. Highly experienced backrower who has made a big impression since moving to New Zealand to join the Chiefs in Super Rugby. Originally signed on a two-year deal he's been given an extension until 2021.

Forwards: Tyler Ardron (captain), Kyle Baillie, Justin Blanchet, Hubert Buydens, Luke Campbell, Matt Heaton, Eric Howard, Jake Ilnicki, Cole Keith, Conor Keys, Evan Olmstead, Benoit Piffero, Andrew Quattrin, Lucas Rumball, Djustice Sears-Duru, Mike Sheppard, Matthew Tierney

Backs: Nick Blevins, Andrew Coe, Jeff Hassler, Ciaran Hearn, Ben LeSage, Phil Mack, Jamie Mackenzie, Gordon McRorie, Peter Nelson, Shane O'Leary, Patrick Parfrey, Taylor Paris, Conor Trainor, DTH van der Merwe

Our prediction: 4th

 

 

Namibia

Best Finish: Pool stage

Captain: Johan Deysel

Coach: Phil Davies

Betting: $5,001 to win the tournament, $2,500 to win the pool

History: Haven't won a single match in five World Cup appearances and hold the unwanted record if the biggest defeat in tournament history after the Wallabies flogged them 142-0 in 2003.

Player to watch: Johan Deysel. Scored a try against the All Blacks at the last World Cup. Powerfully built centre, he's played for the Sharks in South Africa and now plying his trade in France's second division.

Forwards: Andre Rademeyer, Nelius Theron, Desiderius Sethie, AJ de Klerk, Johannes Coetzee, Obert Nortje, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Tjiuee Uanivi, Johan Retief, Thomasau Forbes, Rohan Kitshoff, Max Katjijeko, Prince Gaoseb, Wian Conradie, PJ van Lill, Adriaan Booysen, Janco Venter.

Backs: Cliven Loubser, Helarius Kisting, Damian Stevens, Eugene Jantjies, Darryl de la Harpe, Johan Deysel (capt), Justin Newman, JC Greyling, Johann Tromp, Chad Plato, Lesley Klim, Janry du Toit, PJ Walters

Our prediction: 5th

News Corp Australia


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