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Kaino names 2023 World Cup favourites and it isn't the All Blacks

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Steve Bardens/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Double World Cup winner Jerome Kaino has named his favourites for the 2023 World Cup – and it’s not the All Blacks even though he believes that keeping Ian Foster on as the head coach for the finals is the right call. The back-rower was an integral part of his country’s triumphs in 2011 and 2015 but he isn’t backing them to deliver the title next year despite the vote of confidence given to Foster earlier this week by the NZR.


Now 39, Kaino called time on his playing career at the end of the 2020/21 season in France which finished with Toulouse crowned European and Top 14 champions. He has since taken up an assistant coach role at Toulouse, coaching skills at a club where he feels the standards demanded are similar to the All Blacks.

Interviewed by Midi Olympique, the French rugby newspaper, ahead of the new Top 14 season, Kaino compared the Toulouse set-up with what he experienced during his 81-cap Test career with the All Blacks. “Yes, the two are very similar, there are real similarities,” he said.

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“They share a rich history and a strong winning culture. These days they are under tremendous pressure regarding results and the game. There are so many expectations to meet for these two teams every year. The requirement must be maximum. It creates the same atmosphere. The All Blacks, like Toulouse, are at the top of the mountain and everyone wants them to make fall.

“The current (All Blacks) results are not in our standards but I am not worried about all that. I know the talent of the players. I know Ian Foster, too. I played for a long time under his orders and I know he is a very good technician. Sam Cane, too, is a very good captain.

“The players must be disappointed but I know they will find solutions to bounce back. The period is tough for the fans but I think the Blacks will come out stronger. Maybe even from the World Cup,” he said, crossing his fingers and adding his delight that Foster has kept his job. “Yes, I just saw that. I am very happy for him.”

Asked to pick a favourite for the 2023 World Cup in France, Kaino chose the host country as the likely winner ahead of the All Blacks. “Yes, France are favourites in my eyes. Through the rugby they play, the confidence they have stored away with their recent successes and the fact that the competition is taking place on their soil, the French supporters have a great capacity to carry their team.”


The French half-backs, former teammates that he now coaches at Toulouse, also got a favourable mention. “Antoine Dupont is incredible. I admire his calmness under pressure. It’s the same for Romain Ntamack. They are so serene. Whether it’s a Top 14 final or a casual encounter, they have the same approach. And they are very professional. Each week, they seek to progress.”


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