Can Sonny Bill’s X-Factor break The Jinx and take Kiwis to the World Cup?
SO that’s it then, the All Blacks won’t win the rugby World Cup next year.
What’s more, they won’t even reach the final.
By finishing 2010 indisputably at the top of the rankings, the Kiwis have sealed their fate.
Not because they’ll choke or Dan Carter will get injured but because of The Jinx.
First patented by me in these pages in 1999, The Jinx says that no team ranked No 1 at the end of the year before the World Cup ever gets past the semis.
And before you chirp “that’s because it’s always the All Blacks”, think again.
While the hapless New Zealanders have been bewitched in this way three times out of six World Cups, it has also snared the Wallabies twice (1986/7 and 1994/5) and the Springboks once (in December 1998 Nick Mallett’s team were on a record run of wins before a forgettable 1999 cup campaign).
There’s similar voodoo on the 2011 Cricket World Cup which spells doom for hosts India.
They stand no chance according to The Hex which says no host nation ever wins an ICC event.
This has applied to 18 different contests – ODI, T20 and Champions Trophy. In the nine ODI World Cups to date only one host nation has even reached the final (England in 1979).
There are a couple of footnotes on The Hex, both involving Sri Lanka.
They won the 1996 World Cup having staged pool games, but beat India in front of a rioting Kolkata crowd in the semis and then Australia in Lahore in the final – scarcely a case of overcoming, what has become, a home-ground disadvantage.
The hosting Sri Lankans also shared the 2004 Champi- ons Trophy with India after both the final and a replay in Colombo were washed out.
Even The Hex is powerless in the face of monsoonal rains.
There’s not much Gary Kirsten can do about this historic burden as India target the Mumbai final on April 2, except possibly adopting a psychological posture and some physical gimmicks to ensure his team see themselves as an away team in their own country.
However there is plenty the All Blacks can do about The Jinx.
The lesson is; “if it ain’t broke then you still must fix it”. To be constant from this point up to the World Cup invites repeat trouble for Graham Henry.
Which might be where Sonny Bill Williams comes in. He sounds like a country & western singer and looks like the heavyweight boxer he briefly was, but SBW could be the X-Factor for Henry who gradually introduced the rugby league convert into the side on the European tour.
At 108kg, Sonny Bill has been compared to Jonah Lomu, but he’s a very different beast.
His huge strength lies in the mercurial off-load in the tackle and if the All Blacks can learn to run off this monster properly before the opposition defences work out how to counter him then The Jinx just might be consigned to the dustbin at Eden Park in October.