The Southern Hemisphere countries have already started their World Cup preparations. Australia rested some of their best players against Samoa and ended up losing by 32-23. On the other hand, New Zealand fielded a full strength side and had a more comfortable win against Fiji. Both Australia and New Zealand have also played South Africa. The 3 countries are the top favourites for this years World Cup (South Africa won the trophy in 2007, at the last tournament). The 3 countries take part in the Tri-Nations series each year, where each team plays the other 2 in home and away matches. Australia put out a full strength side, learning from their mistake, and finished off South Africa with some style. South Africa had been unable to put out a full strength side, due mainly to injuries (although they’re resting some of their best players for the World Cup), so they didn’t have much of a chance. They also lost to New Zealand. The next match is Australia vs New Zealand. This will be an interesting contest as both will be at full strength and it will be a better gauge of their form. There is also an intriguing battle at out-half, where Australia’s Quade Cooper faces off against Dan Carter. Carter is considered by many to be the best no.10 in the world, and Cooper is becoming a real star himself. The 2 actually faced off earlier in the year, when their club/provincial sides met in the final of the Super 15 (the Southern Hemipshere’s answer to the Heineken). Cooper’s Queensland Reds actually beat Carter’s Cantebury Crusaders, but on the day it looked like Carter had won their personal battle. I wonder if it will be the same when their two countries square off on Saturday?

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