Can Sonny Bill’s X-Fac­tor break The Jinx and take Ki­wis to the World Cup?

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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.

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