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Why the All Blacks aren’t currently good enough to win World Cup

By Finn Morton
All Black Captain Sam Cane leads the Haka during the Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and South Africa Springboks at Mt Smart Stadium on July 15, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Brett Phibbs-Pool/Getty Images)

New Zealand rugby fans have been singing the All Blacks’ praises after their scintillating 35-20 win over world champions South Africa last weekend. The All Blacks put on a clinic, and the home fans loved every minute of it.

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It was one of their best performances under current coach Ian Foster. But it’s impossible to forget where the All Blacks were a year ago.

Losses to Ireland, South African and Argentina rendered the All Blacks to a disastrous run of defeats. Many cast the fallen giants aside as nothing more than a pretender ahead of the World Cup.

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But the All Blacks are back – or so many New Zealanders believe.

The All Blacks, who opened their Rugby Championship campaign with a dominant win over Los Pumas earlier this month, put the world on notice with a big win over the Springboks.

Right from the get-go, the All Blacks were a cut above. Will Jordan and Shannon Frizell were especially impressive during the statement victory.

But with less than two months to go until the Rugby World Cup, legendary All Black Murray Mexted has downplayed the encouraging victory.

According to Mexted, the All Blacks can’t win the sport’s ultimate prize going off their current form.

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“One step at a time in my opinion. At the moment we’re not the perfect package,” Mexted said on The Platform. “Are we good enough at the moment to win the Rugby World Cup? No, we’re not.

“But we’re definitely showing the signs of a much-improved team, and provided the team is selected pretty consistently… we can only get better.

“We’re definitely trending in the right direction.

“Mendoza was a good start, a really good start because it’s hard to play in places like that, and then we followed it up against probably the best opposition you could play against.

“We’re heading in the right direction in my view.”

Playing at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday evening, the All Blacks laid down the challenge with a passionate haka opposite their fiercest rivals.

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Following weeks, if not months of chatter, the Test match that both rugby nations had so eagerly been waiting for was finally upon us.

But the All Blacks came to play, while the Boks were slow out of the blocks.

Tries to Will Jordan and Shannon Frizell saw the hosts take a commanding lead, and the Springboks never really recovered.

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While the visitors came within eight points following a try to world-class winger Cheslin Kolbe, that’s as good as things got for them during an improved second half performance.

“One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but I will say I’m very much encouraged by what I’m seeing,” Mexted added. “In fact it’s a delight to see it. It looks like we’re on track.

“We’ve got a lot to go yet, I think we’ve got to build more rhythm yet, but we’re definitely moving in the right direction this year.

“The inconsistencies of the last two years or so are obvious for everybody, we’ve all seen them. They’ve had a restructure of their coaching lineup and I think it’s paying dividends.

“We’re seeing a more improved effort, particularly from the front row. Because that was a magnificent forward pack, the Springbok forward pack, and we had that scrum under control.

“When you look at the stats, I was thinking before the game if we don’t get 50 per cent we won’t win this game – 50 per cent possession. We actually got 63 per cent or 64 per cent of possession.

“Great success really as far as strategic play.”

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