The All Blacks have landed in England saddled with the expectation of finally securing that elusive overseas World Cup title. In the first of a two-part series analysing the chances of the World Cup holders, Simon van Ryn provides us with five reasons why the All Blacks will retain their status as champions.
The All Blacks have a host of stars finishing up their international careers in England and the rest of the squad will be looking to help them leave the All Black family with some more silverware.
The impending departures of Richie McCaw, Daniel Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Tony Woodcock and Kevin Mealamu have a massive effect and New Zealand’s finest will want to end with a bang to ensure the legacy which they have helped build over the last decade stays in tact.
2. Fire Power
Any team that possesses Julian Savea, Ma’a Nonu, Ben Smith, Kieran Read, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisaiki Nahalo and Malakai Fekitoa will always be one of the favourites for world domination.
These players will inject the much needed spark into the All Blacks attack and with that brings an almost unstoppable force.
Not many teams in the world can keep up with the All Blacks when they fire on all cylinders, so getting the ball into these guys hands as much as possible will be crucial.
Pundit’s Tip: Nehe Milner-Skudder top try scorer at 20/1.
The likes of Woodcock, McCaw, Nonu, Smith, Carter and Jerome Kaino have all won a World Cup before, so the responsibility will weigh heavily on their shoulders to set the standard for the new guys.
World Cups are won by the team who can thrive in pressure situations the best. The leadership group will therefore be expected to perform and use their tactical nous when they are under the pump.
Keeping a clear head will be crucial to the All Blacks hopes and in the experience of the players mentioned above, Steve Hansen’s men stand a great chance of success.
4. Mental Strength
The word used to describe a player in rugby that plays with a lot of heart is ‘ticker’. No one in the All Blacks embodies this more than Richie McCaw. The captain can push his body to the absolute limit and will expect his troops to follow suit.
If every player can play with a fraction of the do-or-die attitude that McCaw possesses, they will be unstoppable. In addition, given that it is McCaw’s last outing for the All Blacks, he will be ruthless in ensuring the team perform to their best.
He will certainly put them in great stead heading into the business end of the World Cup.
From the elusiveness of Dane Coles in the forwards to Aaron Smith’s bullet pass there is no better opportunity to run teams ragged than at this edition of the Rugby World Cup.
The All Blacks need to bring out a game plan similar to the one used by the Highlanders in this year’s Super Rugby campaign, where they used their pace to out gas their opponents.
Power is a strong component of the All Blacks’ hopes. Combining this with a blistering attack and lightning quick ball from the breakdown to the outsides should obliterate their opponents and lead Steve Hansen’s troops to a historic victory.