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'Really suits New Zealand': Ex-Wallaby assistant tips All Blacks as RWC dark horse

By Ben Smith
Sam Cane of the All Blacks leads the team out ahead of The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Marvel Stadium on September 15, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Former Wallabies assistant and Leicester Tigers head coach Dan McKellar has warned rival international teams that this World Cup ‘suits’ New Zealand more than any other time in history.


The All Blacks have generally entered most tournaments as heavy favourites but that often hasn’t resulted in them winning the tournament.

Upset defeats to France in 1999 and 2007 stunned the world while in 2019 their quest for three consecutive World Cup wins was stopped by England.

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The former Wallabies assistant under Dave Rennie told The Roar Sports podcast that the low expectations after last year’s home defeat to Ireland has placed the side in an unfamiliar position.

“I think this World Cup really suits New Zealand I think for the first time ever, they’ll just fly under the radar,”McKellar told The Roar Sports pod.

“They’ll turn up with no expectation. If they get knocked out in quarters they’ll probably be disappointed.

“Semi-finals, it will be whatever, that’s what everyone expected so I think that works in their favour.


“Clearly the French and the Irish are the teams to beat and as people were saying on the Spring Tour last year you don’t want to play Australia at the back end in tournament rugby.”

The All Blacks open the tournament with a blockbuster clash against the home favourites France, who beat them 40-25 when they last played in late 2021.

New Zealand have undergone a number of personnel changes since that defeat which leaves France in the dark as to where they stand against them currently.

There is also optimism that Australia will do well having been drawn on the opposite side to the top four ranked sides, allowing for a smoother ride into the semi-finals.


The Wallabies could meet England in a semi-final which would pit Eddie Jones against his old team.

McKellar was frank about his former team’s prospects saying that if they lose too many key players to injury they will struggle.

“If we can get our best players on the park and keep our best players healthy,” he said.

“If you take out Kerevi, Cooper, that sort of player this year then we’re going to struggle to win.

“But if we can keep our best players on the park, nice and healthy, then the expectation is for us to perform well and get to a semi-final and once you get to a semi-final then it’s anyone’s game.”

Cooper recently returned to the field in Japan for the first time since his Achilles injury, although it was just for one minute as part of a tactical substitution.

Eddie Jones confirmed that his star flyhalf is on track to make this year’s World Cup while inside centre Samu Kerevi is due to return in May from an ACL rupture suffered last year at the Commonwealth Games.



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Jmann 414 days ago

I rather think that 'dark horse' status goes to eng and Oz given their side of the draw.

Euan 414 days ago

Their black jersey ensures that.

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Shaylen 8 hours ago
Brumbies the best team in Australia but still nothing to show for it

The Brumbies have been the strongest side in Australia for a long time and that was down to their forwards and set piece which has always been good and has always been able to dominate their Australian counterparts. This year the lack of maul tries and also the lack of a stable scrum has been a real problem which was also something Nick alluded to in his article this week about the creaking brumbies tight five. Home advantage is key as you say and the Brumbies must find a way to score more bonus points. If the Brumbies are really serious about winning a title they need to do what Kiwi sides at the top do. They need to smash every Aus side with a bonus point at home while claiming losing bonus points in every game they lose and denying their rivals bonus points. In their 3 losses in NZ this year they were smashed. They only scored 60 tries which is middle of the road, their scrum came in at 73% which was one of the worst in the comp, tackle success at just 83% which was right at the bottom and in terms of metres, clean breaks, carries, offloads and rucks built they were in the middle plus they had the most yellows. They basically were just not dominant enough wile they can improve their discipline. They excelled at kicking and won plenty of lineout ball plus their rucks were secure at 97%. Not sure about turnovers but they weren’t bad there. They just need to be more clinical and give away less and they will give themselves the best chance to win the title.

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