Autumn Internationals – Week One Preview
November is a special month in the rugby calendar for a couple of reasons; firstly we see some of the world’s best player sporting moustaches in the aid of Movember and international rugby returns to the northern hemisphere as the likes of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa head up to Europe for their end of season tours.
England v Fiji – 2.30pm
Stuart Lancaster has selected one of the most inexperienced teams in recent English history for the opening game of the QBE Autumn Internationals, with the starting XV averaging around 14 caps and the replacements just eight-and-a-half caps.
Tom Youngs makes his debut at hooker, despite only starting nine Premiership games for Leicester. While Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola are also set to make their international bows from the bench, after impressing for Wasps and Saracens respectively.
Nevertheless England are expected to win comfortably against a weakened Fijian side, with handicaps as high as -34 being offered by Stan James, however England -32 is evens (Bet Victor) and looks a very tempting prospect.
England have plenty of firepower in their backline with the likes of Manu Tuilagi, Charlie Sharples and Ugo Moyne all priced at 8/1 and 9/1 (Sky Bet) to score the first try, while full-back Alex Goode is priced at 12/1 (Sporting Bet).
But for me Danny Care offers great value at 14/1 (Sky Bet) the Quins scrum-half has been in electric form this season and has scored some very important tries for the English champions. If there are weaknesses in the Fijian defence around the ruck, Care will be the man to make them pay.
Mike Brown can consider himself very unlucky not to be starting at full-back, but he looks certain to come off the bench either on the wing or at 15. I think at 9/1 (William Hill) he is a very good bet to score the last try of the game, when the Fijian defence is tiring.
The anytime scorer markets offer some terrific prices for the Fijian players who are definitely worth considering. Leicester Tigers centre Vereniki Goneva has been one of the stars of the Premiership season so far and is a massive 9/1 (Blue Square) to cross the line during the match. I also like Akapusi Qera at 9/1 (Blue Square) the Gloucester flanker is a tremendous defender, but also has an eye for the try line and it would be no surprise to see him get his name on the score sheet.
Danny Care (First Try) – 14/1 (Sky Bet)
Mike Brown (Last Try) – 9/1 (William Hill)
Vereniki Goneva (Anytime Scorer) – 9/1 (Blue Square)
Akapusi Qera (Anytime Scorer) – 9/1 (Blue Square)
England by 31-35 – 6/1 (Sporting Bet)