Autumn Internationals Offer New Zealand and Australia Chance to Assess World Cup Challengers

The dust is beginning to settle following the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand over the summer, as domestic rugby union and the autumn internationals begin to take centre stage.
New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and South Africa, along with Fiji and Samoa, travel to the Northern Hemisphere later in 2017, where they will once again have the opportunity to test themselves against the likes of England, Ireland, Wales, France and Scotland.

For the All Blacks and Australia, who both made the 2015 World Cup final in England, it will hand them another opportunity to test themselves against some of the countries that will be looking to challenge them in Japan in two years’ time.

New Zealand, who have won back-to-back World Cups, are overwhelming favourites for success in Japan in 2019, and are currently priced at 11/10 in the latest rugby union betting markets. However, after a difficult summer against the Lions, they, along with Australia and a host of others, will have an opportunity to once again take a look at the task ahead.

The Southern Hemisphere teams travelling to Britain and France this autumn will face the best the Northern Hemisphere has to offer, with the exception of New Zealand, who will not play against England, with the next clash between the world’s two leading nations, set to take place in the autumn of 2018 – four years after their last contest in 2014.

England will perhaps pose New Zealand and Australia their biggest threat in the upcoming World Cup, with both countries knowing all about the threat that the Red Rose have under Eddie Jones, who has transformed the face of English Rugby since their embarrassing exit at the group stage of their own World Cup in 2015.

A number of England’s squad featured under Warren Gatland for the Lions against New Zealand over the summer, with the likes of Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daily and Anthony Watson causing the All Blacks problems throughout the thrilling three-game series. Australia, who will face England later in 2017, also know all about Jones’ England side, who recorded a series whitewash over the Wallabies the last time they toured.

There will, of course, be a threat from Ireland and Wales in 2019, with both nations having key influencers in the Lions tour. However, it is likely to be England that New Zealand and Australia want to learn more about from the Autumn Internationals and beyond.

Whilst the World Cup in Japan seems a lifetime away in 2019, time will fly and it will be upon us before we know it – something that international coaches around the world will be well aware of. The Autumn internationals are the perfect opportunity for New Zealand and particularly Australia to take a look at some of the competition they will face for success in two years.

New Zealand have the benefit of just having had the Lions tour, which gave them an opportunity to look at individuals, but now they, along with the other Southern Hemisphere sides, will get an even greater opportunity in the remainder of 2017.