The Rugby Championship 2012

Photo: AFP/
David Pocock will lead the Wallbies in The Rugby Championship. Photo: AFP/
David Pocock will skipper Australia  in the inaugural Rugby Championship, which sees the traditional Tri-Nations combatants joined by Argentina to see which nation is the best in the southern hemisphere. Regular captain James Horwill is one of a number of injured players not considered for the opening fixtures of the tournament, with Wycliff Palu and James O’Connor amongst the other big names sidelined. The Wallabies 30 man squad contains three new faces, with former Australian Under 20 captains Liam Gill and Jake Schaltz named alongside Waratahs lock Kane Douglas. Despite clean sweeping Wales in the three match series between the sides in June, the Wallabies still have something to prove on the international stage following a shock defeat to Scotland in Newcastle earlier in the year.

2011 World Cup winners New Zealand  are again shaping as the team to beat, with their squad very similar to that which lifted the Webb Ellis Cup at the end of last year. Their cause has been further boosted by the availability of Sonny Bill Williams for the opening two rounds.

South Africa  has been dealt a cruel blow going into the competition with flanker Schalk Burger ruled out, while exciting back JP Pietersen will miss the opening exchanges after fracturing this thumb in the Super Rugby final.

Despite being ranked only eighth in the world, Argentina  has proven that they can match it with the best sides on their day, as evidenced by a 23-20 win over France in June.

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