O'Neill tips NZ v Wallabies

2011-04-19 10:45

Sydney - Australian Rugby Union chief John O'Neill has tipped the Wallabies to meet the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup final this year, but would not hazard a guess as to who would come out on top.

"I think our prospects for World Cup 2011 are really encouraging," O'Neill told local media on Tuesday. "No one is sitting here saying we are going to win it.

"My prediction is we will make the final and play the All Blacks. As to who might win the final, well, we'll come to that."

Australia beat world champions South Africa twice in the southern hemisphere's Tri-Nations tournament last year to snatch the world number two ranking behind the top-ranked All Blacks, but remain very much a work in progress.

The Robbie Deans-coached side lost a record 10th consecutive match to the All Blacks in September and were thumped by Six Nations champions England 35-18 during their season-ending tour.

O'Neill took heart in the improvement of the likes of flyhalf Quade Cooper and fullback Kurtley Beale, likening the current Wallabies lineup to the Rod Macqueen-coached side that triumphed in the 1999 World Cup.

"If I look at the '99 team and the players who had X-factor, (captain John) Eales, (Tim) Horan, (George) Gregan, (Stephen) Larkham, Matt Burke. It would be hard to argue that Quade Cooper, Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor don't have X-factor," O'Neill said.

While Deans's tenure has seen the emergence of a number of talented backs, the New Zealander has struggled to mould a world-beating forward pack, with threadbare front row stocks a particular concern.

O'Neill tempered his enthusiasm by conceding that the Wallabies were yet to fully overcome weaknesses around the scrum and that the backs' spark would only go so far at the September 9-October 23 tournament.

"The caveat I've got on our prospects is that it won't be razzle-dazzle. 2007 reminded us that this is a tournament," added O'Neill, referring to the Wallabies' disappointing quarter-final loss to England in the last World Cup.


  • CapeTownJunk - 2011-04-19 10:51

    The key thing to remember here is that South Africa and New Zealand are seeded to meet in the semi-finals. So any predictions of a South Africa vs New Zealand final depend on one of these two sides failing to win their group.

      GHT - 2011-04-19 11:25

      Hmm. A final between South Africa and New Zealand is still on the cards. Remember that France share a group with New Zealand, so there is a very remote chance that their bogey team could do it again. We don't really have a bogey team. Think we have only lost the 3 times in World Cup history. Once to New Zealand, Australia and England. And we beat those 3 teams a few times (except for Australia I reckon, can only remember the one time we beat them).

      Linzam - 2011-04-20 04:00

      @GHT You think France will put out a top side against NZ in the pool? No way! Since it's the last match of the pool and both sides will probably have qualified already, France will concede the match and play their B team. NZ will have far more motivation and will win that game by over 40 points.

  • mupet-killer - 2011-04-19 11:19

    bull crap, unlike the proteas, the boks thrive in world cups. we have won half the world cups we have entered and nz are bound to choke just like sa cricket and english football teams. home pressure will be too much. people are writing us off like in 2007. sa-nz final-worlds biggest rugby rivalry- will be the dream final but its impossible i guess. sa-aus or another sa-eng final. BRUSSOW 4EVA.

      Linzam - 2011-04-20 04:12

      Agreed SA does thrive in world cups as the style of rugby needs to ensure that you grind out wins. SA has this style. This tends to make Rugby World Cups the most boring rugby played every four years and usually all the winner can say is that they were the most boring team. This was certainly true in 2007, when SA were slightly more boring than England and all teams with flair had departed long before the final. Hopefully this time round the refereeing interpretations will allow some attacking rugby. A final between NZ and Australia would say that the tournament had been a triumph of flair and attack. A SA v England final would again say that the tournament had bored everyone silly.

  • RJ - 2011-04-19 11:35

    NZ like India in the CWC should be favourite to win, give them that, But it aint gona be easy.....

  • Grunk - 2011-04-19 12:12

    Unfortunately with the Coach and probable team that he is going to select at this point in time, I think we are going to be lucky to finish 2nd in our Group, let alone top. In any event we have no chance of getting past the quarter finals if: (a) Smit is chosen as a player (on or off the bench) (b) Habana is chosen for the Squad (he will just be taking up the space of a stronger reserve player) (c) Spies (ditto (b)

      Rob - 2011-04-19 12:33

      Agree. A) Smit must go but only as a behind the scenes helper. b) Habana must be fired from Bok rugby forever. c) Alberts to replace Spies. Spies does NOTHING.

  • grocer - 2011-04-19 12:13

    I agree. We've got no chance this year. Judging by the crusaders and the reds, it should be an oz v nz final.

      Stryder - 2011-04-19 12:25

      It is not looking good, but remember the combinations are different at Super 15 level as opposed to international. The Tri-Nations will be a good yardstick I think.

  • Dr. No - 2011-04-19 12:28

    If he is so sure of his predictions he should play superbru. One guess is as good as another unless you tip USA to win it or something like that. How these things make headlines still baffles me.

  • StBad - 2011-04-19 12:30

    I'd put some money on that!

  • basie.lombard - 2011-04-19 12:37

    Since when is what O' Neill says of any relevance? Of course he would say that. He is an Australian! They still have to beat England on their way to the final. And with that brittle pack of forwards in NZ conditions? I do not think so...

  • Cire - 2011-04-19 12:42

    Gee, my dear old grannie could have made this prediction! And she is already in that great Newlands in the sky!

  • hunterdog - 2011-04-19 12:44

    HAHAHAHAHAHA AUSSIES. Really chaps, the Bokke will give you carrots. Wait n see. The final will be Bokke vs France!!!

  • Capey - 2011-04-19 12:48

    HOW is this a news item? This fool will always pick his own team to be in the final - is this news? And grocer, it is only the HALFWAY stage of the s15, and you are picking the WC finalists based on the midway performance!!! Rather just be quiet...

  • Josh Brown - 2011-04-19 14:02

    I Apologize my SETH EFRICKEN friends, i`m an ozzie, & alot of OZZIES would concur that this bloke O`neill is an IMBECILE!!!... My humble apologies,please forgive us...

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