Rugby World Cup 2019: New Zealand

  • 01/04/2019

World ranking: Second

Qualification: Defending champions

Best result: Champions 1987, 2011, 15

TAB odds: $2.25

Chances: As two-time defending champions and top-ranked team in the world, the All Blacks deserve their favouritism and seem to have buried the World Cup bogey that plagued them for more than two decades.

Their opening game against the Springboks looms as an early indicator of form and mindset, but they must also find a way to stay motivated against weaker teams in their pool, leading into the quarter-finals.

Leading players:

Anton Lienert-Brown

New Zealand's best midfield back, yet he may not start in Japan. That remains to be seen, but what we do know is he can cover 12 as efficiently as he plays 13. Breaks tackles, makes tackles and his option taking is world-class. 

Brodie Retallick 

When will he play? Brodie says final pool game, but the selectors are leaning towards quarter-finals. The All Blacks will need Retallick firing to win the tournament - he is a difference-maker.

Aaron Smith 

Still owns the best No.9 pass in the world. TJ Perenara has closed the gap, but the All Blacks just seem a little more settled when he is on the park. 

Ardie Savea 

Doesn't matter what number jersey he is wearing he is arguably the most influential forward on the park. Savea is in his prime and has forced the selectors into assessing their loose forward trio - an absolute weapon for the All Blacks.

Beauden Barrett 

Don't be surprised to see Barrett off the bench making the same sort of impact he did in 2015. Ben Smith is still the best No.15 in the country, and the thought of Barrett opening a game up with 30mins to go could be too much of a carrot to ignore.

Squad

Forwards: Scott Barrett, Sam Cane, Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Luke Jacobson, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Joe Moody, Kieran Read, Brodie Retallick, Ardie Savea, Angus Ta'avao, Codie Taylor, Matt Todd, Patrick Tuipulotu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Sam Whitelock

Backs: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Richie Mo'unga, TJ Perenara, Sevu Reece, Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Brad Weber, Sonny Bill Williams

Pool draw (NZT)
September 21
New Zealand v South Africa, Yokohama City, 9:45pm (live updates)

October 2
New Zealand v Canada, Oita Prefecture, 11:15am (live updates)

October 6
New Zealand v Namibia, Tokyo, 5:45pm (live updates)

October 12
New Zealand v Italy, Toyota City, 5:45pm (live updates)

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Rugby World Cup 2019 Dictionary

The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.

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