All Blacks begin World Cup defence

2015-09-20 11:19

London  - Defending champions New Zealand start their Rugby World Cup campaign against Argentina on Sunday hoping to end their failure to win the trophy on away territory.

New Zealand will put out their most experienced team with 1,013 caps between them into the opening Pool C game at the football fortress of Wembley stadium. Argentina are expected to make full use of their bruising pack in the clash.

Coach Steve Hansen and ace goal kicker Dan Carter tried to put on an air of calm and quiet confidence on the eve of the game however.

"We've had a plan from day one about what we're going to do," said Hansen who stepped up to become head coach after assisting Graham Henry when the All Blacks won in 2011.

The world's number one team want to be the first to win a third title, first to win two in a row and they want to finally bury their reputation as being unable to win a major abroad.

"I don't think we should be afraid of the favouritism tag," said the 56-year-old former policeman.

"It's something we live with all the time anyway.

"And we shouldn't be afraid of all the expectations that come with being the All Blacks because you get that all the time.

"We're expected to win every Test match, so there's no more added pressure for us if you look where we live most of the time on the pressure scale."

Under Hansen, the All Blacks have played 47 Tests, won 42, drawn two and lost three, steadily building towards the 2015 tournament in England.

Australia took the southern hemisphere championship from them this year however.

And the one black mark in New Zealand's illustrious rugby history is that they have never won the tournament away from home, earning them a reputation as chokers.

Carter, the world's most prolific Test points scorer, said there was no clear reason for the repeated failures.

"If we had that answer we wouldn't be sitting here an All Blacks side that's never won a World Cup away from home.

"But that's the challenge that we've got ahead of us and it is a huge challenge," he said.

"It's not just being away from home, it's the tournament itself in terms of this is the pinnacle of rugby.

"Every other team here are here to win and that makes it really tough and the beauty of this tournament is there are probably a good six, seven, eight teams that could win this but that's the challenge that we're walking towards.

"The fact that the All Blacks have never won the World Cup away from home is something that excites this team."

New Zealand are expected to go through their pool -- which also includes Nambia, Georgia and Tonga -- with ease before a likely match-up against either Ireland or France in the quarter-finals.

New Zealand have particularly struggled against France at the World Cup.

Hansen said before arriving in England that New Zealand's shock loss to France in the quarter-finals of the 2007 World Cup remained etched in the All Blacks' collective psyche, ensuring they would not allow standards to slip.

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