Rugby Championship 2018: Australia Preview

The Wallabies will be looking to claim their second Rugby Championship title when the 2018 edition of the tournament gets underway on the 18th of August.

Last year's runners-up will be looking to repeat their feat of 2015 and secure only their second-ever Rugby Championship title when this year's tournament gets underway on Saturday the 18th of August.

The Australians are second-favourites with books for the title and are currently trading at a very handy 6/1.

Saturday 18 August
Australia v New Zealand
ANZ Stadium

Saturday 25 August
New Zealand v Australia
Eden Park

Saturday 8 September
Australia v South Africa
Suncorp Stadium

Saturday 15 September
Australia v Argentina
cBus Super Stadium

Saturday 29 September
South Africa v Australia
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

Sunday 7 October
Argentina v Australia
Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena

Best Starting XV
15. Israel Folau 14. Dane Haylett-Petty 13. Tevita Kuridrani 12. Kurtley Beale 11. Marika Koroibete 10. Bernard Foley 9. Will Genia 8. Peter Samu 7. Michael Hopper 6. David Pocock 5. Izack Rodda 4. Harry Hockings 3. Allan Alaalatoa 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau 1. Scott Sio

Forward to Watch - Izack Rodda
The Reds youngster only made his Super Rugby debut last season but already has made seven appearances for the Wallabies with his debut coming against New Zealand in last year's Rugby Championship.

The 21-year-old is an insane specimen weighing in at 119 kilograms and standing 2.02 metres tall. He has an incredible work rate and will offer the Australians a great ball-carrying option.

Back to Watch - Kurtley Beale
The metronome in the Waratahs backline, Beale enjoyed a marvelous Super Rugby campaign with his sleight of hand and ability to interchange with fellow 'Tah Bernard Foley, catching a lot of opponents off hand.

The veteran utility back will have a key role to play if the Australian's are to taste glory for the first time in three years.

The Wallabies face an extremely tough start to the tournament as they take on the Kiwis in the opening two weekends. If they can somehow pull off a miracle and grab four points from those two fixtures then they may just have a chance of pulling off a famous title tilt. If they lose both those fixtures then they will basically be out the running having not stepped outside of Australasia.

If Michael Cheika's side is to take the title, then the Wallaby mentor will have to make some bold decisions when it comes to his pack selection. The Australian pack struggled against the Irish at the set-piece during their 1-2 June Series defeat, with their locks not really providing enough power or guile at scrum-time or at the line-out.

I think Cheika will do well to field the young Reds combination of Izack Rodda and Harry Hockings. The latter was absolutely brilliant for the Reds during the final salvos of their 2018 Super Rugby campaign and looks a real prospect.

Verdict: Third 6/1
I think the Australians will lose the opening two Tests which will leave them scraping it out with the South Africans for second place. I also think the 'Boks will get the better of the Australian's in at least one of their encounters which means second-place is likely to be decided by who secures the most bonus points. I can see the South Africans securing a losing bonus point from their trip to Australia, which could well secure them second place and leave the Australian's to settle for third.

Written by Darry Worthington for Hollywoodbets

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