Trophy_RWC2011_WorldCup_NZWith just seven weeks to go before we will be resetting our alarm clocks and heading to the pubs at unsociable (or sociable depending on your disposition at 4am) times for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, this weekend sees the Tri-Nations series get underway in Sydney.

So what will we learn about the three frontrunners (sorry Northern hemisphere fans but the facts don’t lie) to claim the Webb Ellis trophy? Well on the face of it, it seems perhaps not too much.

With the Springboks sending a weakened side on tour (and despite Peter de Villiers management rhetoric to the contrary, 23 players missing is not a full side!) and their Antipodean rivals likely to keep the powder dry on a couple of their secret weapons (does Sonny Bill Williams count as a secret anymore?!), you would be forgiven for thinking that the tournament is a waste of everyone’s time.

However, this will be the perfect opportunity for one or two ‘bolters’ to appear from nowhere, grab a World Cup spot and prove their mettle on the world stage.

As for the rest of the world, they will be hoping for injuries and fatigue to boost their slim chances at scooping rugby’s ultimate prize come October time.

By Conan Jal