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Why the All Blacks ‘are in a great position’ to win the Rugby World Cup

By Finn Morton
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Ahead of this year’s World Cup, some rugby fans have cast the All Blacks aside as nothing more than underdogs as the once champion team prepares for their shot at rugby immortality in France.

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Instead, with the sports biggest event set to get underway in four months’ time, northern hemisphere heavyweights Ireland and France are considered more deserving of the favourites tag.

But with that comes pressure and expectation – the likes of which those two proud rugby nations have never experienced at a World Cup.

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France hold the record of losing the most World Cup finals without tasting success, having been defeated by the All Blacks in 1987 and 2011, and Australia in 1999.

As for Ireland, they’ve failed to make it past the quarter-final stage and every Rugby World Cup.

While the world No. 1 ranked side is expected to buck that trend in France, again, with that comes pressure and expectation.

Then there’s the threat that the likes of England, Australia and Argentina pose on the other side of the draw – all three teams are more than capable of an upset or two.

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This year’s Rugby World Cup promises to be the most competitive instalment of the prestigious event in history, with a number of teams believing they can hoist the Webb Ellis Trophy in October.

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But former Test flyhalf Stephen Donald, who was the All Blacks’ hero at the 2011 World Cup, believes New Zealand “are in a great position” to win the tournament.

“I think the All Blacks are in a great position,” Donald said on AM. “I know everyone was doom and gloom after last year.

“But when you look at everyone else that there’s there, the Irish are flavour of the month but they’ve never made it past the quarter-finals. They’re going to go there with all the hype and hoopla, (but) how are they going to respond to that?

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“The French, again, a lot of hype and hoopla. They’re playing at home, they’re a young team, (but) how that expectation going to go on them?

“The All Blacks are in as good a place as any. They’re pretty settled.

“On the radio, we’re always picked out ‘form XV’. When you put them all together, it’s a hell of a team.”

Throughout this article so far, there’s been no mention of the reigning Rugby World Cup champions South Africa – and that’s been intentional.

Going into this year’s tournament, a lot of fans rugby expect Ireland, France and New Zealand to challenge for the World Cup crown.

But there’s been a staggering lack of hype surrounding the champion Springboks.

While Donald believes the All Blacks will win the World Cup, the 39-year-old expects South Africa to challenge for the Webb Ellis Trophy once again.

“The one team I would (bet on) if I wasn’t putting money on the All Blacks – which I have – would be the Springboks,” he added.

“South Africa for me is the big one because it’s gonna be pretty much the same team that won it in Tokyo.

“They have a monstrous forward pack, they will not do anything other than use that forward pack, use their nine and ten to kick.

“We all know in World Cups and in tournament play, that’s a fairly handy formula.”

The Rugby World Cup is set to get underway in less than four months. The All Blacks will look to upset hosts France in the opening match of the tournament in Paris.

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An angry Kiwi 403 days ago

The All Blacks have lost to all the teams that they potentially face in the group and quarter finals multiple times. They have the worst coach in recent memory. The underdog tag is well deserved versus say France being at home with local TMO coverage and England/Australia potentially getting to the semis without raising a sweat. Knockout tournaments are much easier if you only need to play well in back-to-back games where an easy path minimises injuries.

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