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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
New Zealand RWC team guide
A one-stop guide to all you need to know about New Zealand for the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Fixtures (Pool C):

  • v Italy - 8 September, 1245 BST, Marseille
  • v Portugal - 15 September, 1200 BST, Lyon
  • v Scotland - 23 September, 1600 BST, Edinburgh
  • v Romania - 29 September, 1200 BST, Toulouse

    Recent form: A summer defeat to Australia left people muttering about a stuttering New Zealand. But they still won the Tri-Nations - for a third successive year - and have lost just once in 11 and twice in 27. Great form, but they have choked at the vital moment before.

    Coach: Former teacher and supposed 'Great Redeemer' of Welsh rugby, Graham Henry, took over the top job back home after the 2003 World Cup. He has created a vastly competitive and winning atmosphere and has made the All Blacks the team to be feared.

    Captain: Master flanker Richie McCaw was appointed skipper in May 2006 and has lost just two of 20 games he has presided over. Despite a nickname of 'Fluffy', he is anything but at the breakdown where he plays on the edge of the laws and is a key cog in the All Black machine.

    World Cup pedigree: They have reached the last four in each tournament and the final in two, winning one.

    World Cup high: Lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy in the inaugural tournament on home soil in 1987.

    World Cup low: Failing to win again despite all those semi-finals. The pick of the bad bunch has to be the last-gasp defeat to South Africa in the only other final they reached. Food poisoning or not, a wonderful team let it slip. But each semi has been pretty painful as well.

    World Cup legend: Jonah Lomu's barn-storming runs captured the imagination, but they didn't capture that elusive trophy. David Kirk did and is the only Kiwi captain to lift the World Cup. He's a nice bloke too as he raised it with Andy Dalton, who had gone into the tournament as skipper but missed out through injury.

    Present star: In 2003 it was 'Here's Jonny'. In 2007 it is all about 'Get Carter'. Opponents need to stop the scintillating skills of New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter if they are to derail the favourites. The 25-year-old has scored in every game he has played and has been on the losing side just four times.

    Maverick: Going into the World Cup, Josevata Rokocoko (the winger formerly known as Joe) has a remarkable tally of 38 tries in 45 games. The fleet-footed Fijian-born flyer turns it on for the big occasion so expect more scores. The only major nations he has yet to cross against are Ireland and Scotland.

    Enforcer: Blind-side flanker Jerry Collins is a fearsome one-man wrecking ball. The former bin man, with a peroxide blond crew cut, relishes slaying opponents with bone-crunching tackles. Notoriously caught on camera having a pre-match 'toilet break' before a Bledisloe Cup match in 2006.

    Strengths: Overwhelming ability, confidence and a competitive hunger. The squad is relatively fresh compared to rivals as the majority were pulled from a large chunk of the Super 14 competition at the start of the year.

    Weaknesses: But could that count against them? Not enough rugby in the tank could have been a cause of summer rustiness. There is also the pressure of playing as overwhelming favourites.

    Did you know? Officials have banned Wags (wives and girlfriends) from going into the hotel rooms of players during the tournament.

    World Cup base: Marseille (from 2 September)

    They say: "You've always got to play as if you're battling for your place in the team, because when you become comfortable is when you lose it." Jerry Collins

    You say: "NZ to top group, then Italy, Scotland, Romania, Portugal."
    CreamCraicer on 606

    World ranking: 1

    Odds: 1/2

    Our verdict: Anything less than overall victory and at least New Zealanders will be able to wear their All Black shirts through the period of mourning as well. They really should nail the World Cup this time... but that has been said before.

    Ranking and odds correct at 26 August. Odds supplied by William Hill.

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