'It will be tight on the scoreboard if the weather is that bad' - The Left Wing panel give their weekend World Cup verdicts
The Rugby World Cup may have kicked off today with host nations Japan’s 30-10 victory over Russia but the serious business gets underway over the weekend as the big guns enter the fray.
Apart from Ireland’s opener against Scotland on Sunday morning, there's a bumper day scheduled for tomorrow.
Not only are Ireland’s possible quarter-final opponents, holders New Zealand and South Africa facing off in Yokohama, there’s also an intriguing clash between France and Argentina as well as a tricky tie for Australia against Fiji.
All three fixtures were discussed on this week's The Left Wing, Independent.ie’s rugby podcast in association with Aldi with our panelists Luke Fitzgerald and Fergus McFadden giving their predictions for the weekend’s action.
"I’m going to go with Ireland," Fitzgerald said of his former team's first pool game.
"It’ll be tight if the weather is going to be as bad as they're saying it could be. I think we can control the game and be comfortable but it will be tight on the scoreboard if the weather is that bad.
"In terms of New Zealand v South Africa, I’m going with New Zealand. It’ll be pretty hot out there with a good dry track and I just think it will suit them. It’ll suit their ball-playing forwards.
"If they can move the South African pack around and get on top of them, I think they’ll beat them.
"France are an unknown quantity but I think Argentina will take that one."
While Leinster star McFadden found common ground with Fitzgerald on Sunday's match, his analysis of the other two match-ups led to a different conclusion.
"Our game, I agree with Luke on that one with Ireland," he said.
"I think it's going to be a one-score game, particularly if it’s going to be wet but our pack will out-muscle them.
"But on Saturday, it's South Africa for me. I think they’ll win that one and it’ll be a bit of a shock.
"There could be a couple of shocks in the opening weekend. I can see the first 50 minutes of that Fiji Australia being very tight. The Fiji backline is incredible, I can see them taking Australia (to the limit)."
"France and Argentina is a funny one, the two of them are World Cup teams, aren't they," McFadden finished.
"They just pull it together for World Cups no matter how they’re going, particularly France. It makes for exciting viewing but I’m going to go for France."