Australia, South Africa and Argentina will struggle - but good luck stopping the All Blacks

By Sir Ian McGeechan

While Europe's finest must be at their very best against the New Zealand try-scoring machine, the other touring teams can all be sent packing, and this is how ...

New Zealand

Good luck to Ireland playing them twice, once in Chicago and then again in Dublin.

Italy and France also play them, but they are unbeaten in 18 Tests, and I cannot see anything other than that sequence extending to 22, even if France have frightened them in the past. As I have said before, they are the best side in the world by two years.

If anyone is going to cause them problems it will be about matching their tempo and their game involvements from individuals.

Your kicking game and the kick-chase have to be so good against them, because otherwise it will come back at you with interest and in such a way that they can vary where they attack from.

You need a good attacking game against them because you just know they will score so many points against you. In that last match against Australia, they did not play particularly well and yet they still scored six tries and won comfortably.

You have to throw things at them and not just try to hold on to the game.

You have got to get the likes of first five-eighth Beauden Barrett and his midfield making a lot of tackles so that they are on the ground and out of the game. You have got to try to put pressure on them at the set piece to make them work harder there, and then the same applies at the first breakdown.

You must try to keep those two areas under real pressure to slow them down and prevent them getting across the gain-line early. That might force them to kick a bit more, which they will do. But ultimately one missed tackle, or a half tackle, and they are away on the front foot. That is what the British and Irish Lions are going to have to do next year. In that respect it is a pity it is only the Irish who get a hands-on feel for how the All Blacks play.

Australia

They have definitely regressed. They have probably had more control than South Africa and Argentina of late, but you only had to watch them against Argentina at Twickenham to realise that they can still be very loose at times, too.

You can see that coach Michael Cheika wants his front five to be more physical, to allow his back row a bit more freedom. Against New Zealand they have been found out a bit in that respect, which has diluted the influence of the likes of David Pocock and Michael Hooper.

So I expect them to be physical on this tour, and of most interest to me will be whether Bernard Foley plays at 10 or 12 for them. I thought they looked much better with Foley at 10 in that most recent match against the All Blacks, raising the age-old question mark about Quade Cooper at 10 again. If you want consistency you would probably not play Cooper, because he is at his best when a team are flowing rather than this Australia side, who are trying to find themselves and their optimum game again.

It is almost as if this Australia side were playing catch-up throughout the Rugby Championship, with a lot of previously lauded individuals not playing anywhere near their best.

They are on a grand slam tour, playing Wales, Scotland, France, Ireland and England. I cannot see them winning a grand slam. Indeed, I can see all their opponents fancying their chances against them

South Africa

They arrive on the back of four defeats in five games, the last a 57-15 humbling by the All Blacks in Durban. They are vulnerable, to say the least, and England, who have not beaten them since 2006, will fancy their chances against them.

Never have they, Australia or Argentina all looked so vulnerable, in fact.

New Zealand aside, this is a huge opportunity for the northern hemisphere to take some scalps.

South Africa will always be powerful and awkward to play against, especially up front, where lock Eben Etzebeth is outstanding, but the problem for them is finding their game. Over the course of the Rugby Championship you were hard pressed to know what sort of game they were looking to play tactically. I see that coach Allister Coetzee is saying that his side need to improve their defence and kicking, which suggests they will return to their old ways, which has always been a very conservative game and which is very different from the ambitious game employed by the Lions so successfully in Super Rugby last season.

There are clearly huge problems in the South African game as a whole, with so many players playing abroad, so that when they begin their European tour next weekend against the Barbarians at Wembley they will be using a different squad from the one that will face England at Twickenham the week after.

They have some very experienced campaigners, but also some exciting youngsters, and if Coetzee was really brave he would use this European tour (his team also play Italy and Wales) to blood some of those youngsters so that it gives him greater variety in how he can choose to play the game.

Argentina

They have become a little bit too careless, and certainly are not as disciplined as they were in last year's Rugby World Cup.

Then, they were excellent at getting numbers into the outside channels and playing out of tackles, but recently they have tended to be very inconsistent in reproducing that sort of stuff, and have been culpable of giving soft points away because of too many errors.

That match against Australia at Twickenham was a perfect example. They handed it to Australia on a plate. But that does not mean that they should abandon their high-tempo game, because they have the basis of a good template, and I do not think they will.

They have a hugely exciting back row, with the outstanding Pablo Matera and Facundo Isa, and I really like the look of Santiago González Iglesias as an attacking fly-half. It is just that his goal-kicking is unreliable. That has cost them recently. They play Wales, Scotland and England. They could win two from three if they get their game together, but in truth, because of the way they have been playing, they could just as easily lose all three.

I do really fancy the Scotland game to be a high-scoring affair, though.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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