For the first time in 24 years, New Zealand have arrived for a Rugby World Cup as champions, finally able to bat away the ‘choking Kiwi’ tag that has haunted them for almost three decades.
While England are a tempting bet at 9/2 with Sportingbet, it appears that the only chink in the formidable All Black armour is that they have never won a cup on foreign soil.
I don’t think that is a strong enough argument to look past them this time as overall winners, though.
Trading at 75-78 on Sporting Index’s outright market, buying punters will need them to make the final to see any change back.
With 100 points for the tournament win and 80 for runner-up, it’s still a decent gain if they lift the trophy, and it’ll require something special to prevent them from back-to-back triumphs.
Meanwhile, their main competition in South Africa, Australia and England are short of form, consistency or quality, in that order.
The Kiwis should be odds on to win the cup, so 6/5 with Sportingbet is generous and worth snapping up.
From the chasing pack, Argentina, at 31 points on the outright index, are decent value. If everything runs to form, they’ll meet Ireland in what should be a tight quarter-final.
I would back them to win, which looks attractive with 50 points upwards awarded in the market from the semi-final stage.
The Pumas beat South Africa for the first time in this summer’s Rugby Championship, have one of the strongest packs in the tournament, and are looking confident.
Conversely, Ireland looked nervous in their warm up fixtures, and have struggled in the past to find the ruthless mentality needed to see them through the knock-out stages.
With all this year’s teams looking to throw the ball around a bit more, this could be the highest scoring tournament in its relatively short history.
Sporting Index predict total tries at 276-286 and, with two of the last three World Cups safely exceeding that figure, I’ll be a buyer.
While I won’t be touching England’s ‘Group of Death’, Group B, featuring South Africa, Samoa and Scotland, piques my interest.
The crunch match will be Samoa versus Scotland to decide second in the group, and I’m going with the Pacific Islanders.
Quarter-final qualification will earn 25 points so Samoa are worth a small buy at 19 to make it out of the pool.
New Zealand to win the World Cup at 6/5 (Sportingbet)
Buy Argentina’s outright index 31 (Sporting Index)
Buy total tries 286 (Sporting Index)