Wales head coach Warren Gatland feels that the All Blacks are still “on another level” and will have refocused after their home loss to the Springboks.
Gatland is nearing the end of his time with Wales, and will leave the side after what he hopes will be a successful World Cup campaign.
In an interview with WalesOnline, Gatland was asked about the upcoming tournament and whether he would regard it as open.
“You’d like to think so, with Ireland and ourselves, and there has been some resurgence in Scotland. England, with the amount of depth they have, are capable of winning the World Cup if they get it right,” Gatland said. His Wales side currently sit third behind Ireland and New Zealand in the world rankings.
“So it is pretty exciting. We have gone into World Cups hoping to be competing with southern hemisphere teams. Apart from the All Blacks, who are still another level ahead, there isn’t much between the other teams.”
Gatland feels New Zealand’s 36-34 loss to South Africa to weeks ago will serve as a wakeup call for the All Blacks and will help them address similar situations moving forward.
“Sometimes when you lose a game it highlights some of the things you haven’t been focusing on,” Gatland said.
“There is no doubt they probably haven’t been thinking about dropped goals in the last two or three years. It is something they didn’t even practice in 2007 when they lost to France. It has probably refocused in terms of what they need to concentrate on at the World Cup if a game is tight and close.”
Gatland also said that the unpredictable results of the last Rugby Championship round were positive for rugby.
“I think the All Blacks losing to South Africa recently was good for rugby, although as a Kiwi I don’t want them to lose. It was also good for rugby in terms of Argentina beating Australia as well. You don’t want one team continually dominating the game,” he said.
The All Blacks are currently in Argentina preparing to face the Pumas this weekend, while Gatland’s Wales won’t play again until November.
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