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September 12, 2011 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

7The Inning Stretch

Every four years New Zealand expects the same thing and yet never receives it.

The holiest of grails for New Zealand sport: the William Webb Ellis trophy. For the past 24 years, the All Blacks have failed to win the Rugby World Cup since the inaugural competition here in New Zealand in 1987.

The country has had to endure failure after failure despite being the favourites in each of the past four tournaments (2003 doesn’t count because Jonny Wilkinson isn’t a team). We have fallen to the Springboks because of food poisoning, the Wallabies because of an intercept pass, and the French twice because we cannot seem to match their desire on the day (although there was a forward pass and they are cheating Frogs).

This year is different though. And I know we say this every tournament, but this time it’s true. It has to be. And here are the four reasons:

1) The coaches have been there before. Quite surprisingly the coaching staff didn’t get the sack after our dismal performance against the French four years ago. They apologised for the rotation policy and unprecedentedly we moved on. Now, four years on, this seems to have been a great decision. They have forged the team into the most feared in world rugby and they now have the experience of losing a World Cup to draw upon to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.

2) It is at home. The last (and only) time we won the World Cup was when it was staged right here in New Zealand. Once again, the tournament is right here in our backyard and we don’t like losing here very much. We’re almost unbeatable at home usually and the South Africans for one, who pose one of the most significant dangers, have never really been successful tourists here. Only those Aussies we have to worry about now.

3) Two maestros named Daniel Carter and Richie McCaw. Four years on, four more years experience, and extended contracts. These two have been the best players in the world since France 2007 and will go down as two of the best in the history of the game. They will be hungry for a World Cup win after the disappointment of four years ago and they won’t let us down this time. Plus, they won’t want to have those extended New Zealand contracts if they lose it again.

4) Two words: Jimmy Cowan. Not always a fan favourite, but in this columnist’s humble opinion, the greatest All Black of all time. You scoff; well don’t. The glue that holds this team together; he has the tenacity, desire and mongrel that New Zealand sport lacks. He has forged a stunning partnership with Piri Weepu and he has the X factor to take this team all the way. Jimmy Cowan will be the difference. Andy Ellis, you’re just a pretender.

Four sure reasons why the All Blacks will win the World Cup. You heard it here first.


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