Cape Town - Winning this year’s Rugby Championship is not of paramount importance for teams to emerge victorious in the Rugby World Cup, former All Black wing Jonah Lomu says.
The southern hemisphere’s showpiece tournament will be a shortened affair in this 2015 World Cup year, with all teams playing each other only once.
In World Cup years gone by, no team that won the tournament (previously called Tri-Nations) went on to win the World Cup that same year.
In 1999, New Zealand won the Tri-Nations, but were knocked out in the World Cup semi-finals by France, before Australia went on to beat France in the final.
In 2003, the All Blacks again won the Tri-Nations, before being knocked out by the Wallabies in the World Cup semi-finals, before England won the final.
In 2007, New Zealand again won the Tri-Nations, but were knocked out by France in the World Cup quarter-finals, with South Africa going on to win the tournament.
In 2011, Australia won the Tri-Nations, but lost to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-finals, before the Kiwis beat France in the final.
“Winning the Rugby Championship certainly doesn’t guarantee winning the World Cup, the same way losing it doesn’t mean you are going to lose the World Cup,” Lomu told kicca.com.
“It’s not the be all and end all plus it is a shortened version of the Rugby Championship this time around because of the World Cup.”
Lomu, who played 63 Tests for the All Blacks between 1994 and 2002, did agree that the tournament is great preparation for the World Cup.
“It is a great way to build and it is also much needed for the New Zealand players who haven’t played for four or five weeks.
“Some had their first trot out against Samoa last week and you could see from that game that there was a lot of game rust.
“I expected a little bit more from New Zealand but that is because we always expect so much from the All Blacks.
“The Rugby Championship is now about finding out new combinations. It’s no use trying to find them out at the World Cup.
“I’m pretty sure the All Blacks will know their starting line-up but who are the guys who can play in numerous positions.
“There will be unforeseen injuries which will happen in the tournament. You have to be prepared for the worst case scenario and you have to figure out which combinations work or not.”
The 2015 Rugby World Cup, to be staged in England and Wales, runs from September 18-October 31.