Rugby World Cup Betting: Bringing back Smith will make the All Blacks better still

Great but trying to be greater - the All Blacks are getting themselves in gear for the World Cup
Great but trying to be greater - the All Blacks are getting themselves in gear for the World Cup

The start of 2015 heralds a World Cup year for rugby - Ralph Ellis has been reading clues on why the holders are getting even stronger as the countdown to the tournament gathers pace...

"The All Blacks don’t do complacency. They are the world’s best because they always want to be better again before anybody else can catch them up. That’s why 2.77/4 for them to win the William Webb Ellis trophy is a fantastic price."


Spend any time on Twitter and you'll know that newspaper writers are not among the nation's favourite people. Lazyjournalism (it seems to have become one word) is consistently among the top 20 favourite hashtags.

Of course we all make mistakes. I've had a few of my own recently, managing to put Russell Osman into Everton's current day team in the middle of a match report instead of Leon, and turning Stephane Sessegnon into an ex-Newcastle player instead of Sunderland. That went down well because, as several people sarcastically pointed out, it's not as if the two clubs are rivals or anything like that.

But it's worth pointing out that while nearly everybody else had a couple of weeks off over Christmas, the newspaper industry and online media were still up and running every day. And while what we do shouldn't ever be confused with proper work, the quest to serve up information never stops.

Which brings me to Owen Slot, the chief rugby correspondent for The Times, who spent his New Year in New Zealand investigating exactly what makes the All Blacks such a sporting phenomenon. (Okay, like I say, it's not digging roads, but it's a job just the same and he's doing it with a purpose).

I've written several times that backing New Zealand to retain their World Cup this summer at odds against - the current price is 2.77/4 - is the gift bet of 2015. Their dominance of the sport is such that they should be massive odds-on.

Well thanks to Owen for bringing more evidence to back that up in his piece from the other side of the world that appears today. While nobody else seems to have noticed that New Zealand have added to their coaching staff ahead of next summer, because he was on the South Island he was bang on the ball.

The big news there was that the All Blacks have brought back Wayne Smith. You might remember that in 2011 he was part of the backroom team which helped them overcome the stage fright which had always seemed to drag them down when the World Cup rolled round; And that after the tournament he chose to take a break from the sport, rejecting overtures from the RFU who wanted him before they ultimately settled for Stuart Lancaster.

He's back now with a brief to concentrate on the defence, but in a rather different way. His role is to drill the world's best team in ways of rapidly turning defence into attack. I'm happy to quote Owen the expert here: "It says something about their ambition that they are taking a facet of the game in which they are already one of the world's best and asking one of the smartest brains to improve it."

I can't argue with his conclusion, either, that there's something odd about the fact that England handed out extended contracts to Lancaster and his coaching team in September on the back of four wins from eight, while New Zealand, who lost just once in 14 Test matches in 2014, chose to look at their backroom staff and find improvements.

The All Blacks don't do complacency. They are the world's best because they always want to be better again before anybody else can catch them up. That's why 2.77/4 for them to win the William Webb Ellis trophy is a fantastic price. And thanks again to a "lazy journalist" for reminding us why.


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