The All Blacks travel to South Africa for a two-game series to open the Rugby League and the pressure is intense.
After a first series defeat at home since 1994, when Ireland stunned hosts Dunedin and Wellington to get through the shock of the Three Tests, head coach Ian Foster finds himself struggling for survival.
Four defeats in their last five Tests just aren’t enough, such are New Zealand’s high expectations.
Highlights of Ireland’s historic third victory over New Zealand in Wellington
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson declined to guarantee Foster’s position beyond the two games against South Africa, in an interview with Newstalk ZB. And amid widespread calls in the Kiwi media for a change of head coach a year before the 2023 World Cup in France, it looks like they have two ideal suitors in Joe Schmidt and Scott Robertson.
Such noise means the All Blacks enter the Rugby League amid considerable tension, and things aren’t going to get any easier when they take on the world champions in their own backyard, live. Sky Sports Action Saturday.
Nonetheless, such is the country’s position in sport, Foster’s charges begin the campaign as tournament favorites in the eyes of the bookies, slightly ahead of the Springboks.
A defeat at Mbombela on Saturday could spell more trouble for the beleaguered All Blacks, and that result could force a major overhaul. However, an away win could change their trajectory as they look to set their season on fire.
But Ireland revealed major weaknesses in the squad last month and if New Zealand fail to seal the cracks the rest of Rugby League will be looking to further break the air of invincibility surrounding the All Blacks. in the coming weeks.
rugby league live
August 6, 2022, 3:55 p.m.
South Africa ready to change gear?
On reflection, South Africa’s win over Wales went as planned for the home side.
Although the Springboks lost the second Test to the Tourists, 12-13, it came after Jacques Nienaber made 14 changes to the starting squad. The big shots came for the decider as they sealed a winning streak by a comfortable 30-14 scoreline.
South Africa were too strong for Wales in their decisive series
This degree of rotation against high-quality opponents is a huge advantage for the team as the 2023 World Cup begins to loom on the horizon.
Since winning the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan three years ago, the Springboks have been significantly affected by the impact of the pandemic.
After that final victory against England in Yokohama, they had to wait 20 months for their next test. But they found their marks.
In the previous World Cup cycle, this was the third year they started picking up the pace. From there, it was a constant crescendo. at the main tournament in the Far East.
They will look to move on a similar trajectory once again. And what better way to kick off the Rugby Championship than with a victory over the All Blacks?
A win would provide a real boost and set a meaningful score against a side they could potentially face in the quarter-finals in France next year.
Argentina and Australia bet on the perfect start
The Pumas come into Saturday’s showdown against Australia with momentum, after a late try from Emiliano Boffelli moved ahead of their tiebreaker series against Scotland.
With Michael Cheika at the helm, Argentina are looking to close the gap with the Southern Hemisphere bigwigs.
Although they didn’t build on their historic first win against New Zealand in 2020 the following season, Argentina are still pushing forward. Cheika teamed up again with Pumas legend Felipe Contepomi, who joined the coaching staff after a successful stint with Leinster.
And the duo will be hoping to build on Scotland’s victory when Cheika’s native Australia come to town.
The best of action from the epic final decider of the series between Argentina and Scotland
The Wallabies also need a big win. After the disappointment of their series loss at home to England, Australia are keen to get back on track.
Dave Rennie has overseen a steady resurgence in fortunes since taking office, but Australia have yet to return to the top of the table.
Still, there’s no denying that Michael Hooper and company have come a long way since their disappointing show in Japan.
A 2023 World Cup draw opens up big opportunities for Australia as they find themselves in the opposite half of the world’s top four teams through to the quarter-finals. And they will believe that there is a platform to do real raids.
But for now, they will focus on the coming weeks. And a weekend opener win over Argentina would allay fears of the wooden spoon, paving the way for a chance with the Springboks and All Blacks in four home games.
rugby league live
August 6, 2022, 8:00 p.m.
Watch South Africa v New Zealand from 3.55pm and Argentina v Australia from 8pm live on Sky Sports Action on Saturday.