worldcup online – the real conversation

Is this really the best All Blacks side ever?

October 29th, 2015 by · Features, Rugby

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer is convinced that this is the greatest All Blacks team in history

Heyneke Meyer was in no doubt, Graham Henry a little less certain yet still pretty sure. But if this is the greatest All Blacks side in history, and victory against Australia on Saturday would mean it is pretty hard to argue with, how many of the probable starting XV against the Wallabies would make it into an all-time New Zealand side?

Comparing the amateur and professional era always has its pitfalls and for that reason, and the absence of sufficient material, the Invincibles of 1924-25 have not been included meaning there is no place for George Nepia, Bert Cooke or Maurice Brownlie. It is a subjective exercise, designed to provoke thought, debate and no doubt no little uproar.

More at TheGuardian

One thing they can all agree on - The best No10 in All Blacks history, Dan Carter.

One thing they can all agree on – The best No10 in All Blacks history, Dan Carter.

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Final will be decided by the battle of the No6s

October 28th, 2015 by · Features, Rugby

Scott Fardy for Australia and New Zealand’s Jerome Kaino will be the key figures in Saturday’s final

Much of the talk before Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final will doubtless focus on the superstars in the respective back rows, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read for New Zealand, and David Pocock and Michael Hooper for Australia.

And that is to be expected because they are all outstanding players, but it might just be that the battle of the back rows, and therefore maybe the destination of the victory, is decided by the two unsung heroes wearing the number six jerseys, Scott Fardy for Australia and Jerome Kaino for New Zealand.

More at TheTelegraph

Kaino v Fardy - Both have the knack of making critical interventions

Kaino v Fardy – Both have the knack of making critical interventions

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Aussies need to be ‘special’ against New Zealand

October 28th, 2015 by · Features, Rugby

Coach keen to emphasise attacking style after Semi win

Barely a year on from a situation of unparalleled disarray on and off the field, Australia and their talismanic coach, Michael Cheika, are in a World Cup final. A team transformed.

“I’m not taking any credit for any of that type of stuff,” he said. “It’s about players wanting to play, guys playing for each other. They want to play for Australia and they’re committed when they run on the field. In rugby, that’s the basic. Being committed when you run on the field. The rest of the stuff [about me], I haven’t thought about any of that.”

More at TheIndependent

Cheka - “New Zealand have had a different path than us to here. They might be feeling different. But it’s a World Cup final." 

Cheka – “New Zealand have had a different path than us to here. They might be feeling different. But it’s a World Cup final.”

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Cheika picking class over form

October 27th, 2015 by · Features, Rugby

Michael Cheika has confidence in full-back Israel Folau

The full-back has been plagued by an ankle injury for the last three weeks and while he started in the semi-final win over Argentina on Sunday, he hobbled off with 15 minutes to go.

There has been plenty debate around the Waratahs superstar, who has failed to impress at the World Cup. However, Kurtley Beale, his replacement, has provided plenty go-forward and shown tactical acumen with the boot off the bench. Beale’s form would suggest he deserves a start ahead of the struggling full-back, but coach Cheika appears to be picking class over form.

“I never doubt that bloke – never,” said Cheika of Folau.

More at Planet Rugby

Israel Folau has been struggling with an ankle complaint

Israel Folau has been struggling with an ankle complaint

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