Rugby World Cup 2011

Five or six teams 'can win' RWC

2011-09-04 13:41
Johann Muller (File)





Wellington - There are "five or six" sides that could win the rugby World Cup and the team that handles the pressure the best will come out on top, Springboks lock Johann Muller has said.

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"I think this is going to be an unbelievable World Cup, the 31-year-old Muller, told reporters in Wellington on Sunday. "There are five or six sides who can win it.

"World Cups are different. It's a one-off thing. There are no second chances, the team that creates the most and does not worry about all the pressure around this tournament will come out on top."

Muller, who was in South Africa's World Cup winning squad in 2007 and brought back from the international wilderness this season after playing for Northern Irish side Ulster, was cautious when asked about how his team felt about Wales coach Warren Gatland's comments their conservative game plan meant they "did not play rugby".

"I think every guy has an opinion. We obviously don't share that view," Muller said of Gatland's comments made ahead of their opening Pool D encounter next Sunday in Wellington.

"We know what is coming. The Welsh have had a really good side and had a great build-up to the World Cup with a couple of great wins.

"The only thing we worry about is to be well prepared for Sunday. We know what we want to do and I think that's the only thing that matters to us."

Muller said he had not found it difficult to slot back into the national team set-up, despite not having played a Test for the Springboks since their series victory over the British and Irish Lions in 2009, and his move to Europe away from the familiarity of South African rugby.

"It wasn't tough at all," Muller said of his return to the Springboks' World Cup side, which came shortly after being named Ulster's captain for the next European season.

"I think thats the great thing about it, we have got players from all over the globe playing in this group," he added of the influence of players like himself, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and Frans Steyn, who have plied their trade in Europe joining the players still in South Africa.

"Every tournament has a different style and a different environment and if we can all add to the greater goal that will be great.

"I have learned a hell of a lot over the last season abroad and I have come back, I wouldn't say a better player but a more experienced player.

"I have learned so much over the last 12 months and if I can pass on that knowledge I will be very happy."

The Springboks have been drawn in a tough Pool D with Gatland's Wales, Pacific nations Samoa and Fiji and Namibia, and Muller said he felt the physical encounters they faced over the next month would prepare them well for the knockout phase of the competition.

"It's always good, if you play a couple of tough pool games it does prepare you well for the quarter-finals," Muller said.

"Yes it is tough we have probably got the toughest group in this World Cup and sometimes when you win it you say its the best thing that could have happened and if you lose then you blame it on a tough pool game.

"We have three or four unbelievably tough games in this pool and hopefully by the end of the pool stages we will be ready for the knockout phases and in seven weeks time we will say it was a great thing."

 

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