Predictions: Rugby Championship

Date published: July 16 2015

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

What a warm-up this promises to be for the World Cup as the big four in the southern hemisphere clash once again to decide the Rugby Championship winner. Some believe this should be the way forward in a quality over quantity move.

Our tipster has put together a few tournament bets before the Week One games so without further ado, let's lean on Paddy Power's rugby markets to see the odds given for a tournament that could give us some clues ahead of September.

Rugby Championship

Three rounds to decide the 2015 Rugby Championship; it promises to be a nail-biting tournament as the All Blacks look to make it four in a row.

The Boks are second favourites with Australia third and Argentina bringing up the rear as many look at the schedule for a helping betting hand.

Of course the All Blacks will want to take a maximum from their first game before they head to South Africa, who will have made the long flight to and from Australasia inside ten or so days. So yes, while they are at home against New Zealand, it will be a much-changed and fresh visitor.

There is then a week's break following Round Two before what could be the silverware-deciding game between Australia and New Zealand in Sydney. At this point, the Springboks and Argentina could be playing a dead rubber in Durban if the green and golds go down Down Under.

Paddy Power are offering the straight forecast bet and we like the look of 1st New Zealand, 2nd Australia at 10/3. If you fancy the Boks to get the better of Australia in Brisbane but then struggle against the holders then maybe a 1st New Zealand, 2nd South Africa option favours at 2/1.

Top try-scorer is going to be a difficult one to judge as the majority of the four teams are set to chop and change week by week to get a good look at their options for the World Cup. Two men who might keep their jersey throughout though are Israel Folau (7/1) and Willie le Roux (12/1). An outside bet for this market is Ma'a Nonu at 25/1 as he may well flourish one position out versus the Pumas before reverting to 12 next week.

Now for Week One's fixtures:

New Zealand v Argentina

Don't expect a procession for the All Blacks as they have not found life easy against Argentina over recent years, especially in the first-half so we're immediately tempted by the half-time handicap of plus 11 points for the Pumas. We also suggest the plus 24 points full-time head start.

New Zealand will be gunning for the four-try bonus point so expect them to first build a lead via the boot and then look for the corners sooner rather than later. TJ Perenara is often on the end of any breaks and he's 7/4 for score anytime while Waisake Naholo is 13/2 for the first try.

Could it be a dream debut for Naholo? Well, the Highlanders wing to score a hat-trick is priced at 17/2 while Charles Piutau is higher at 9/1.

Australia v South Africa

It is a huge game in prospect as the Wallabies look to build on a record that has seen South Africa win just two of their last eleven meetings on Australian soil. Paddy Power has them a slight favourites at 8/13 while the Springboks are 13/10 and we expect a tight fixture in Brisbane.

The Boks had that hit-out against a World XV last week but have had to travel so it remains to be seen whether they will be slicker than their hosts, who have had a much-needed break after Super Rugby. South Africa to be leading at half-time before Australia win the game is a nice 6/1, particularly as three of Australia's last four victories over the Springboks have come when the Wallabies were behind going into half-time.

On the try-scoring front it's hard not to back Israel Folau to score anytime while Tevita Kuridrani is always a handful and will target Jesse Kriel. Up front we fancy a look at Michael Hooper and Marcell Coetzee as possible scorers. Both were frequent crossers during Super Rugby 2015.