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World Cup 2019 Betting: Is this the beginning of the end for the All Blacks era?

Bloodied nose - All Blacks captain Kieran Read watches Australia celebrate their win
Bloodied nose - All Blacks captain Kieran Read watches Australia celebrate their win
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Australia produced a shock 23-18 win in the final Test of the Bledisloe Cup series. Ralph Ellis looks at the significance for the previously all-conquering All Blacks...

"The All Blacks are inevitably still the [2.3] favourites to win the World Cup in Japan in 2019, but I’m not sure I’d be so confident this far out from the next finals."

Nothing is forever. I remember going for a job interview at a national paper in the late 1980s to become their Merseyside writer and enthusing about why the opportunity excited me: "Liverpool and Everton will always be winning League titles," I said.

I didn't get the job. And as we know the Premier League trophy has never been at Anfield or Goodison either, and after yesterday's combined nine-goal debacles it's not going to happen any time soon.

So I wonder what some starry eyed young reporter somewhere in New Zealand going for an interview this week to cover the All Blacks might be thinking. Could he be finding himself reporting on the beginning of the end?

Saturday's 23-18 defeat to the Wallabies in Brisbane might on the face of it appear to be just one of those blips. It was a dead rubber after New Zealand had already won the Bledisloe Cup, it was pouring with rain, there were three significant players missing through injury.

But we're at the end of 12 months in which despite going one up they were held to a drawn series by the British Lions, lost to Ireland in America, and have had to dig a few games out of the fire with last minute heroics. You do wonder if their era as one of world sport's great teams might be ending.

The All Blacks are inevitably still the [2.3] favourites to win the World Cup in Japan in 2019 and so collect their third crown in a row.

But while I said repeatedly in the build-up to the 2015 edition in England that backing the holders at anything above evens was the best bet of the year, I'm not sure I'd be so confident this far out from the next finals.

England who have improved so consistently under Eddie Jones are now [5.0], and the [8.2] for an Australia who are quietly rebuilding could also represent some value.

When even the respected New Zealand Herald is starting to ask whether coach Steve Hansen has lost his magic touch, you wonder if there are problems growing.

Captain Kieran Read's admission after the weekend's loss that "the Wallabies probably got it over us physically" doesn't sound encouraging. And the way Sam Cane knocked-on in the final minute when he had the chance to rescue the match was also so unlike the calmness in a crisis that is normally the hallmark of a New Zealand team.

Hansen has named four rookies this morning in his 37-man squad for the Northern tour which begins in two weeks at Twickenham against the Barbarians.

There are Tests to follow against France, Scotland and Wales and while Hansen says the trip is an opportunity to blood new young talent and show them the All Black standards they must aspire to, their opponents will see it as a chance to put some more dents in their confidence.

It's another sign of the worries back home that several leading Kiwi rugby writers are expressing relief that they are not playing England on this tour.

Of course it may be nothing more than a blip. But then again we said that the first time Liverpool and Everton lost a few games.


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