It’s the World Cup final we’ve been dreaming of, and the first all trans-Tasman affair in eight editions of the tournament, despite either one of Australia and New Zealand being present for all bar one of the previous seven deciders.
Australia may have been the last team to beat the All Blacks but they are at long odds to repeat such a result in the World Cup final. History will be made come next Sunday as either the Wallabies or the All Blacks become the first side in World Cup history to raise the Webb Ellis trophy for a third time.
Steve Hansen’s side also has the added morsel of motivation as they aim to become the first side to defend their title having claimed honors in 2011.
The Wallabies are the only side to defeat New Zealand in 2015, though the Kiwis returned the favor for that upset at ANZ Stadium with a 41-13 drubbing in a return bout in Auckland to provide the only blemish on their record as well.
Now, to be sure, it is not that, as the Wallabies run out onto the pitch for the World Cup Final the smart money will be on them. Because, of course, as Phil Kearns once observed, they could play the World Cup for a thousand years and the All Blacks will always be the favorites to win.
But, if wallabies are on form, and the All Blacks are out of form then this game might turn out 50-50.
Freak-fact: In 1999, a New Zealand team won the Super Rugby and Australia won the Rugby World Cup. In 2011, an Australian team won the Super Rugby and New Zealand won the Rugby World Cup. In 2015, a New Zealand team won the Super Rugby, Good grief!! Am freaking out.
Michael Cheika’s Australia coaching record (appointed October, 2014)
11 wins, 4 losses, 0 draws (78.6%)
Steve Hansen’s New Zealand coaching record (appointed December, 2011)
48 wins, 3 losses, 2 draws (90.6%)
Possible starting XVs
Wallabies (1-15): Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore (captain), James Slipper, Kane Douglas, Rob Simmons, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, David Pocock, Will Genia, Bernard Foley, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Tevita Kuridrani, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau.
All Blacks (1-15): Joe Moody, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (captain), Kieran Read, Aaron Smith, Dan Carter, Julian Savea, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Ben Smith.
Rankings: All Blacks 1st, Wallabies 2nd
By Kelley Boss