19 Aug 2023

'One in Seven' - the World Cup odds are stacked against the All Blacks

6:06 am on 19 August 2023
Ian Foster Coach of the All Blacks

Ian Foster coach of the All Blacks Photo: Photosport

One from seven.

Those are the numbers All Blacks coach Ian Foster has had written up on a whiteboard ahead of the side departing today for the World Cup in France.

1 from 7 is the number of Rugby World Cups New Zealand has won away from home.

The All Blacks flew out of Auckland today heading to London to play the Springboks at Twickenham next weekend, in what will be their final game ahead of their World Cup opener against France in Paris on September 9th.

"It's a massive occasion and we can't wait."

"But one out of seven is a reminder of the size of the challenge facing us."

In 1987 and 2011 the All Blacks won in Aotearoa, while their success in England in 2015 saw them become the first side to win back to back World Cups.

Their worst peformance was the 2007 quarterfinal loss when the tournament was officially hosted by France, but the All Blacks lost to the hosts in Cardiff, the only time they have failed to at least reach the semi-final stage of the tournament.

All Blacks player Brodie Retallick wins a line out ball during the Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies in Melbourne on 15 September, 2022.

Brodie Retallick is a doubtful starter for the All Blacks opening World Cup match. Photo: AAP/Photosport - Joel Carrett

All 33 players selected have boarded the flight with no-one ruled out with a late injury.

However Foster doubts lock Brodie Retallick and flanker Shannon Frizell will be fit to play in the tournament opener.

Retallick is still recovering from the knee injury which forced him off the field in the second Bledisloe Cup test against Australia in Dunedin a couple of weeks ago while Frizell has a hamstring strain, suffered a couple of days ago during a speed session at training.

"So that's a bit niggly for us. We've got plenty of cover for the South African test with (lock) Josh Lord and (flanker) Sampeni Finau already over there."

Having seen the likes of French playmaker Romain Natmack ruled out from the World Cup due to injury only recently, Foster maintains he's not nervous about next week's test against South Africa and the impact it may have on his squad.

"I'm nervous from a performance perspective but you don't go into test matches worrying about who is going to get injured. You go into test matches preparing to win and know we've got to be at 100%," he said.

"If you go into a game with your mind half somewhere else that's when you do find yourself in danger... for us the Twickenham game is a big test and we want to do well so we can go into the French game with a lot of confidence."

Ian Foster

Ian Foster Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Foster is adamant he won't be holding players back from the Twickenham test to keep them safe for the World Cup.

"I won't be protecting anyone. If we have got people that have got a slight ding then they won't play. There will be no sentiment about trying to put people in cotton wool. You don't win World Cups by putting people in cotton wool," said Foster.

Despite the '1 in 7' statistic Foster is upbeat about his side's chances.

"It's a well tested group. It's a group that has gone through a lot of adversity. In the past where we have got tested on adversity is actually in the World Cup and I think winning one out of seven World Cups away reflects that.

"But this group has gone through adversity and figured out solutions and they are growing in confidence about how they lead themselves on the park and how they play, so I feel we are prepared as well as we can be."