Rugby World Cup 2011
Former All Blacks expect World Cup glory
January 2, 2011
Richie McCaw is expected to lead the All Blacks to World Cup glory this year © Getty Images
Former All Blacks Sir Colin Meads and Andy Haden both believe that New Zealand will win this year's World Cup - provided star duo Richie McCaw and Dan Carter manage remain fully fit.
The Kiwis underlined their status as the number one side in international rugby by recording an unprecedented clean sweep in the 2010 Tri-Nations before completing a Grand Slam on their end-of-season tour of Great Britain and Ireland.
Given that this year's World Cup is being staged in New Zealand, Graham Henry's men are, unsurprisingly, the overwhelming favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup later this year. Meads is confident that his compatriots will prevail but feels everything depends on the availability of flanker McCaw and fly-half Carter.
"On present form the All Blacks are the form team in the world at the moment but, you know, the World Cup is another year away," he is quoted as saying by allblacks.com.
"Still, we are looking very, very good and the only thing I can see interfering with us winning it will be injuries. If we were to lose Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, we would be in trouble."
Haden agrees wholeheartedly, admitting that he would not back the All Blacks if either man were to be sidelined through injury.
"But I'm not predicting they will win if that combination is not available," he said. "If either McCaw or Carter are out the chances will be diminished, markedly."
The Wallabies were the only side to defeat the All Blacks in 2010 and Haden feels that Robbie Dean's side are the most dangerous threat to New Zealand's hopes of winning the World Cup for the first time since 1987.
"Australia are fast, confident and ambitious," he said. "Deans has a very lively combination available to him and as long as they can get a share of good ball - and not even half of it; if they can get 40 per cent of the ball - and hold up at scrum time they will be very hard to beat."
Haden's fear of the Wallabies is shared by his fellow Kiwis. In a poll organised by the New Zealand Herald, 45.5 percent of those who participated rated the Aussies as the principal threat to the All Blacks' hopes of a home win, followed by the Springboks on 24.7 percent. However, confidence within the land of the long white cloud is high nonetheless. as 70.4 percent of New Zealanders believe that the All Blacks will win the tournament.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"The fans could not be happier with the opposition and it adds an exciting element to a game that is shaping up as a thriller." Ben Kay previews the Premiership final showdown
"If there was a cross breed of canine called an Underdogdoodle it would win best in show at Crufts." Mark Durden-Smith looks at the Aviva Premiership Final
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel