After a hectic opening weekend in England and Wales, the Rugby World Cup has taken a breather as have we all. It's a well earned breather as well and we've had two mornings to catch up on some sleep and take stock with the weekend's events. It's also offered a few days to have a think about a few things.
South Africa are okay. I'm still picking them to qualify first in Pool B even though they got touched up by Japan. But the Springboks are teetering on the brink and could venture over the edge of the cliff if they continue to tinker with their squad and neglect their strongest 22-man squad over the next few games. The chance to do that, like the All Blacks are now was lost when they were beaten by Japan.
France scare me. The French have always been the team to do something cray cray at a RWC, but from what I saw in their opening game, albeit against a shit Italian side, France will once again provide an immense challenge. What scares me the most about France also applies for Ireland and obviously England as well because they will effectively be playing in front of home crowds. England is only a train ride away for French fans and if their team continues to offer a rugged forward pack and good goal-kicking which will see them win games, then French fans will rally behind their team.
Wales need your prayers. In their first up win over Uruguay, Wales suffered a whole host of injuries to their starters which will go close to ruining the hopes of any team at the RWC. They face England on Sunday morning NZ time and while there's at least three players under injury clouds and midfielder Cory Allen ruled out of the World Cup, the Welsh are keen to use this as motivation. That's admirable and it could spark a fire under their backsides, but they also need plenty of prayers to get out of Pool A.
Who will be better between Canada and USA? Both suffered first up defeats at the hands of the Welsh and Samoa with USA grabbing the early lead with an intense game against Samoa. Canada do have a slightly easier pool though so I'll be watching this little battle closely.
Scotland vs Japan (Thursday morning)
Can Japan keep their strong start going? Scotland will provide stiff opposition for Japan but this is a great opportunity for a confident Japanese side to be 2/2. In fact, I'm rocking with Japan here.
Australia vs Fiji (Thursday morning)
Fiji showed that they are a pretty handy rugby team, possibly the strongest that they have ever been but I can't see them upsetting the Wallabies. I saw too many errors and silly mistakes from Fiji to back them here while I'm extremely interested to see the Aussies in action. I like the Wallabies, but that's before seeing them in a World Cup cauldron so this game will be a must-watch.
France vs Romania (Thursday morning)
Easy win for France here and a chance to ease their foot off the pedal slightly. Don't read too much into this game if France win big or are pushed all the way. Keep an eye on Wesley Fofana getting the start in France's midfield as he wasn't there against Italy.
New Zealand vs Namibia (Friday morning)
Easy win for the All Blacks here and again, there'll be no reason to get too crazy whether they win big or are engaged in a close battle with Namibia.
Argentina vs Georgia (Saturday Morning)
This one could be tricky for Argentina who were pretty impressive against the All Blacks but were their typically volatile selves. Georgia snuck past Tonga but Argentina will offer a far greater challenge and it's hard to see the Georgians posing much of a threat. Argentina will need to improve greatly on their control, not only of the ball but also of the game and should enjoy the chance to play with more possession and better territory.