Predictions: Top 14, ITM & Currie Cup

Date published: August 1 2015

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Tasman_after_last_years_loss_in_final

It's that time of the week when we put our heads on the chopping block to bring you Planet Rugby's predictions.

No games commanding serious coverage from the bookmakers this weekend so we've taken a look at the upcoming season starts of the ITM Cup, Top 14 and Currie Cup.

As always, Paddy Power are our go-to-guys in the rugby betting field so without further ado, here come our early punts for those fast approaching competitions.

ITM Cup

Taranaki are the holders this season after their victory over Tasman in last year's final. They are only third favourites at 11/2 to keep hold of their crown, with the Makos 7/2 while last year's semi-finalists Canterbury are the bookies picks to triumph in 2015, being priced at 10/11.

Speaking of the Cantabs, on paper this is their weakest squad in recent memory and while one or two players could return when New Zealand name their final World Cup squad, that 10/11 price seems stingy. We therefore side with picking Tasman to win, even without the injured James Lowe.

In the Championship it's hard not to look past Wellington at 2/1, who are second favourites behind Hawke's Bay. The Magpies will be missing the likes of Ben Franks and Israel Dagg due to World Cup commitments. The Lions, in contrast, have strong props in Jeffery Toomaga-Allen and Reggie Goodes, flankers Ardie Savea and Brad Shields, centre Shaun Treeby and back-three threats Matt Proctor and Jason Woodward. They should win it.

Top 14

The French championship kicks off in just three weeks' time, so now is the chance to get in some good early bets while the odds are tempting. 

The leaders at the end of the regular season could well be a shock result, with seven rounds of the competition being played during the World Cup. With that in mind, Toulon could drop early points that may be hard to make up, so it wouldn't be a major upset if they didn't finish top.

Of those who could overtake them, Clermont (11/4) and Toulouse (7/1) aren't as disrupted, while an intriguing long shot could be Castres (50/1) with an improved squad and new coach Christophe Urios.

In a similar vein, Racing 92, as they are now known, are very capable of covering the 7 handicap they are being given at Toulon on the opening day, while Castres should do similar at 9 away to Bordeaux.

Currie Cup

The bookies believe it will be the Golden Lions and Western Province at the top with the Sharks, Cheetahs and Bulls below them before the rest. We'd go along with that as last year's finalists are the strongest and most settled sides, despite the Capetonians losing their long-term boss.

Last year the superb Jaco Kriel finished as the tournament's top try-scorer and his combination with Derick Minnie and Warren Whiteley – should he miss out on World Cup selection – is arguably the strongest out there this year.

Nizaam Carr, Siya Kolisi and Rynhardt Elstadt will say otherwise though and further forward WP have two under-rated locks in Jean Kleyn and Ruan Botha. Throw in a strong half-back partnership and Juan de Jongh at centre and on the whole they have the strongest squad and are our pick to be victorious.

COMMENTS