Tri-Nations - Backy: My money on All Blacks

Eurosport - Fri, 09 Jul 16:46:00 2010

The Tri-Nations kicks off the weekend and because of the draw my money is on New Zealand to lift the trophy this year.

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The All Blacks open their campaign with two homes games against South Africa and in my eyes this makes them favourites.

The Boks must travel to Eden Park in Auckland - where they have never won - for the first Test, and then on to Wellington for the second.

I know South Africa have been the outstanding side in the world for the past few years, but I think the All Blacks will edge both games and that will set them up nicely for their next match, against Australia in Melbourne.

They then have the Wallabies at home in Christchurch, so it is possible to see them winning all four of their opening games.

The Boks have played well enough this season but they've not yet hit their stride like the All Blacks have. New Zealand have played at an intensity that just wears team down time and again.

For me, New Zealand have also looked more effective at the tackle area - which, as usual, will be crucial on Saturday - while their offloading game makes them dangerous from anywhere on the pitch.

They have this ability to just throw the pass knowing someone will be there in support. New Zealand are in a pretty good place at the moment and it will be interesting to see if they adapt their approach against the Boks.

I just hope we don't see a kicking-dominated game - it would certainly suit the Boks more than New Zealand as history has shown how strong South Africa are at the set-piece.

Let's hope they don't base their game around kicks downfield,and then rely on their scrum and lineout, and hope to take advantage of any New Zealand errors.

The All Blacks have shown plenty of energy and enterprise from deep already this summer and they look to be in fantastic condition.

Quick ball will be crucial to their dangerous runners, and much will depend on how effective the Boks are at stopping this at source.

Of course South Africa have the players to stop New Zealand's supply of quick ball, but the question is will they be able to?

I suspect not and a Kiwi win could set the tone for the rest of the series.

Neil Back / Eurosport

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