Saturday night here so Saturday morning your time.
Good to see we've named our strongest starting team, bar Ben Youngs who is just back from a bad knee injury. Important to start off strong and whoever wins this match should probably win the group with the other one's clash with Scotland deciding 2nd. Very important to win the group else NZ await the runners up in the quarter final.
Youngs could be a big loss as he's been one our best players over the last year and his backup Danny Care is not even in the squad due to injury so we're starting with our 3rd choice scrum half and the other backup has no caps. I don't know what it is but something about having a guy named Wigglesworth just doesn't inspire confidence.
The annoying thing about this tournament is that there's so few teams who are any good and you can look at the full draw now and write down the whole thing up to the semi finals with near certainty. There's very few games that look interesting in the group stage - I mean, for the opening game of NZ vs Tonga tomorrow the betting agencies are only talking about whether NZ will win by above or below 50 points. There's generally only ever 1 group where there's 3 teams going for the 2 spots to go through and that's our group this time, and it's a pretty good group actually with no certainty over which of the 3 will win the group. Compared to the football World Cup where the gap between the big boys and the weaker sides is not as vast and you always get several surprise teams going through and big teams knocked out early etc. You'd never get the previous champions going out in the group stage in the rugby for instance. Only thing that's ever certain in the football is Germany in the semi finals. Even Brazil sometimes go out early.