Can New Zealand win the World Cup? Based on their steadily improving form, I wouldn’t count them out.
There are a few key things that count in their favor in my opinion.
Their lock combination of Retallick and Barrett is evolving into a Matfield / Botha type of partnership. The All Blacks have lacked an enforcer of the quality of Brad Thorn for a few years but over the past weekend, he started showing it.
There was the crunching tackling but the way he handled Nic White, was priceless!
Not mentioning Ardie Savea would be a sin. He embodies every single drop of passion that the All Blacks play with.
Aaron Smith, the best 9 in my opinion, ensures that delivery is better to his runners than it is for any other nation. His box kicks and the inside supporting lines he runs are also meticulous.
The excitement will however come from the flyhalf and false 12 combo that New Zealand runs so well. They are good at interchanging the flyhalf and fullback or adding the fullback as an extra 12 to the backline to open up defenses.
The deadly Beaden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Damien McKenzie, and Richie Mo’unga are going to rip apart quite a few defenses.
Their patience in absorbing pressure and turning it into a counterattack is going to make it difficult for most other teams. They showed it against the Wallabies again in the 2nd half of the Bledisloe Cup.
The Eddie Jones brand of running hard and creatively in the closer channels had the All Blacks on the back foot. They turned it over in the 57th minute and scored the 58th… and then put the Wallabies to bed with two more tries.
Looking forward to seeing a dominant display from the All Blacks and the biggest indicator of where they are would be their opening game against France.