Campaign know-how valuable All Blacks asset

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    01 Jan 2019     Getty Images

While Ireland beat the All Blacks in Dublin all that has done is demote New Zealand from probable champions to still more favoured than the mere possibles chasing them, according to London's Daily Mail.


"There has been a shift in the balance of power, but it has not been profound enough to sway the bookies," rugby writer Chris Foy said.

"New Zealand remain even-money favourites for the World Cup. The Irish bandwagon is rolling towards Japan with momentum, but the prospects of an All Black 'three-peat' are still strong."

New Zealand's Cup-winning success in 2011 and 2015 meant they possessed the big tournament pedigree and know-how that gave them plenty of experience of the demands of the seven-match campaigns.

"Prior to the triumph in their home event in 2011, New Zealand had been derided as chokers. Well, that is a mental hurdle which the Irish must now overcome and as such, they cannot be proclaimed as front-runners to seize the Webb Ellis Cup," Foy said.

Ireland, England, Wales and South Africa, and the others pursuing the All Blacks know the Cup holders are the team to beat and reports of their demise had been exaggerated.

"The good news is that a classic tournament is in the offing, principally due to the growing spread of bona fide contenders. As well as the All Blacks, Ireland could win it, as could England. South Africa too, if their revival continues, and Wales also deserve to be in that exalted category."

Foy said the World Cup needed shock results and intrigue during the knockout rounds. Some possible shocks could see Japan surprise Scotland in Pool A. The Springboks would turn things upside down if able to beat the All Blacks in the opening game in Pool B. England would face challenges from France and Argentina to top Pool C while Pool D was the most likely for surprise with Wales, Australia, Fiji and Georgia all in the hunt for the top two qualifying positions.