RWC Team Preview: New Zealand

Haka

Rugby World Cup Pedigree:

New Zealand are clearly favourites coming into this World Cup and although they have never worn that tag with happiness, this year is surely their moment to shine. A strong Tri-Nations so far, despite their match against South Africa, they have blown everyone out the water with their potency in attack. A dangerous side, the only people standing in the way of them and the William Webb Ellis trophy is, ironically, them.

Track Record:

Where to start? They began well, picking up the opening tournament in 1987 but since then they have only made one final, in 1995, losing to South Africa in extra time. In 1999 they were knocked out by France in the semi finals, then lost to Australia at the same stage four years later before again losing to France, this time in the quarter finals. For a team of their calibre, their World Cup CV is certainly lacking.

Best Rugby World Cup moment:

In 1987 New Zealand hosted the first World Cup and simply blew everyone away. In what was still the amateur era they approached it with such professionalism that they were envied by other teams. Their players dominated as Grant Fox scored a tournament high 126 points and both Craig Green and John Kirwan scored six tries apiece. Unfortunately they haven’t been able to live up to that competition since.

Biggest Rugby World Cup win: 145-17 v Japan (June 4, 1995)
Biggest Rugby World Cup defeat: 43-31 v France (October 31, 1999)

Key player:

So many players are key for New Zealand but one man needs to be on the pitch to help bring stability to the side and that man is Dan Carter. There is no doubt that he is the best player in his position in the world and the All Blacks miss him when he isn’t on the field, the match against South Africa recently is evident of that. There are so many examples of him orchestrating victory for his side, the 2005 British and Irish Lions tests probably the most famous. If he doesn’t perform, New Zealand struggle.

One to watch:

Sonny Bill Williams has a lot of hype surrounding him, and for good reason. His power and offload in the tackle is immense and he draws players in helping the back three cross the whitewash. I’d be surprised if Henry split up Smith and Nonu but having him as an impact player will cause many issues for tiring defences.

Rugby World Cup Fixtures:

v Tonga (September 9, 20:30/09:30)

v Japan (September 16, 20:00/09:00)

v France (September 24, 20:30/09:30)

v Canada (October 2, 15:30/03:30)

Key Clash:

New Zealand’s first test will be France which will be a huge psychological test for the side. Having lost to them in 1999 and 2007 they will want to get that particular monkey off their back. If they unsettle France’s 8/9/10 axis they will unlock their game.

Odds: Unsurprisingly the favourites at 2/1.

New Zealand coach Graham Henry says:
“There is huge expectation, almost demanding, all the more so given that it’s quite a few years without a World Cup win happening, but that’s right and proper. That’s why the All Blacks play to such a positive level and win most Test matches. The expectation is always there. But that’s a positive, not a negative.”

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw says:
“You can look at it [the World Cup], it’s this big thing that’s coming or you can get just bloody excited about it – I think all Kiwis should. Regardless of the rugby, it’s going to be pretty cool for six weeks, and to play in it, hopefully [in my own country], I couldn’t think of anything better. And imagine winning it – look at it like that, rather than going, ‘Here we go again’.”

Prediction:

Unless you’ve had your head in the ground for the past year or so, New Zealand are slated to take this year’s trophy for the second time in their history. The head will always say the Kiwis have the class, the tenacity and the skill to win, but I’m still holding myself back from saying they will win outright. It all comes down to how they managed the pressure. Despite the hot air coming from many English pundits, I don’t think they will have any difficulties with the Six Nations teams and they proved recently that they can pile pressure on the likes of Quade Cooper, so Australia won’t be an issue. They are likely to meet South Africa in the semi finals which could be a stumbling block

Position: Almost certain to reach the semi finals, and also probably the final. It has to be now really.

22 thoughts on “RWC Team Preview: New Zealand

  1. Oooo, you were a bit quick to write off the Aussies there. Despite the loss in South Africa, I’d put Aussie above South Africa in terms of threats. You’re right though, our biggest threat might be ourselves!
    But I’m with Richie on this one… let’s just get excited and enjoy the world cup – it’s unlikely we’ll ever see it again down here in NZ (or at least, decades away…).
    Go the All Blacks!

  2. There are only three other teams capable of beating the All Blacks, France, Australia and South Africa. Their biggest threat are the French, and if NZ sweep them aside in their group match, then they will ease their way to the Trophy. However, if France win, or run them close, it will send a clear message to the other two contenders that they are beatable, not to mention the pressure that will amount upon them. Another choke on its way, I reckon.

  3. Australia are the big threat to NZ but I’m struggling to envisage the All Blacks losing at home. Even if they win it will only prove they can win World Cups at home. To be a truly great rugby nation you need to win one away from home. Until that happens the All Blacks will always be second rate.

        1. Will be on the lookout for yous Dan & Stuart with my HUGE Maori cousins wearing their T’s saying “All Blacks Simply The Best”- could be interesting

        2. Done – I’ll need photographic evidence that you’ve worn it in the presence of the cast of ‘Once were warriors’.

          ‘Cook the man some f*cken eggs!’

  4. I’d love to see a repeat of the final of ’87. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Kiwi’s will end up topping their group. France won´t topple them than, but I wonder what will go through the heads of the veterans of ´07 if they meet les Blues in the final (not to mention the nation). Either France will edge them and New Zealand declares war, or the All Blacks will whitewash them.

    On the other hand, I hope that someone will send the English packing before the final. I’d rather not see a repeat of the last final. But they’ll stumble their way into atleast the semies. Grmbl…

    1. “Stumble”?

      Its called knock out rugby and last time i looked, NZ cant play it. Perhaps they will learn this time round.

      you also need to pick conrad smith and nonu @ centre. SBW seems to go missing and positionally isnt int class yet.

      Conrad smith (and perhaps Fourie) best centre in world rugby.

  5. If England don’t win it I’d like NZ to have it. They have been brilliant for all the years I’ve been watching rugby and just imagine the party if they do finally win it again!

  6. France, OZ and SA will cause the most threat to the All Blacks but i think France will cause them the greatest problems and will worry NZ (if they show up of course)
    NZ are delighted to have France in their group because they get to play them early on when the pressure is off them a bit where if they met them in the q-final or semi then it’s a case of a knockout rugby and then past memories and nerves could set in and NZ would probable bottle it again. They will put France away and top the group and will not have to deal with them again which will be a relief for them, unless they meet in the final.
    France know how to beat NZ on All Blacks soil. All France have to do is avoid England who always seem to have their number

  7. France will beat NZ again.

    yes, we wonder about their schizophrenic personality but with that comes a nonchalance about other teams which you need to beat NZ.

    Very few teams possess it, perhaps the Saffers.

    the frogs have the pack, backs and around the park dynamism to take on the kiwis.
    Ive got money on the frogs @ 14/1- you heard it here first.

  8. One word I would not use to describe SA is nonchalant. They are massively intense and have about as much flair as Yorkshire. I have to say I am struggling to regard it as a coincidence that NZ and France are in the same group. I think it’s known as drawing their fire. I’ve said before I don’t think France will be much of a factor in this World Cup. I certainly don’t think they will win it because they don’t have it in them to string together two decent performances in a row against top teams.

    1. By nonchalance i mean seeming to be coolly unconcerned and i would say that is very much SA when they play any team. they fear no one.

      th forgs are the same. England seem to have NZ bogey, ie we haven’t beaten them since June 2003…..

      You dont think France will be much of a factor? have you seen either game against ireland?

  9. heres an idea for everyone.

    new zealand are underachieving, not because of the players but because of graham henry.

    they have the players but dont seem to get it right.

    whats affecting their mental state?

    has anyone seen the 2001 lions tour dvd? graham henry was coach and he comes accross badly.

    I wonder if he is a hindrance?

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