CAPE TOWN – Week one of any tournament is a minefield. There is no form guide, no barometer and no certainty about anything. So be careful and be circumspect in where you put your money.
I am going to have two outright punts in Super Rugby’s opening weekend and unfortunately one of them is to bet against the Lions.
The bookies have the Lions as 13/20 favourites, which translates to 65 cents return on each rand bet in favour of the Lions.
The bet I like is the R1.40 return on every rand bet on the Jaguares. I am putting down R1 000 on an outright Jaguares win, which would return R2 400, including my R1 000.
My other outright bet is for the Chiefs to win at home against the Highlanders.
Interestingly, the week started with the Chiefs as the clear bookies’ favourites but as the week progressed the odds shifted to even money, which means for the R1 000 rand I am putting on a Chiefs win, I’d get back R2 000, which includes my R1 000 bet.
I am staying away from the Bulls versus Stormers match in Pretoria. I think it will be a very good contest and very tight.
The bookies have the Bulls favourites by 4 points. The two teams are very evenly weighted and the bookies have obviously given the advantage to the home team. It’s a very risky bet, so think carefully before committing money to this match.
As I said, week one is a lottery, so the more calculated investments could be in total points scored in the respective matches.
Another enticing bet is on the outright winner of the league stage of the competition.
The Highlanders, at 9/1, are worth a punt. They have the least amount of All Blacks, which means the World Cup plan in terms of player game-time management won’t impact as heavily on them.
In the last two World Cup year Super Rugby tournaments the New Zealand teams with the most World Cup squad All Blacks have underperformed.
It’s understandable because all the emphasis in New Zealand in World Cup year is on the All Blacks. They are the priority and as we saw in 2015 with the likes of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, they peaked at just the right time in the World Cup playoffs.
When I assess the South African team prospects for the year I still like the look of the Lions under Swys de Bruin.
The Sharks always have expectation and I want to believe this is a year in which they match this expectation. But, here’s a caution, I don’t say anything about the Sharks with conviction.
The Stormers have a strong player base, but they don’t have the right coaching staff and the Bulls will struggle with the travel.
I am also not convinced about their head coach.
* Kevin Ferguson is chief executive of Highbury Media and SA’s leading sports betting analyst. Follow him on www.moneymansa.co.za