The Big Three

New Zealand me­dia com­pletely dismiss Wales and Ire­land and claim only three teams can win Webb El­lis Trophy

Fiji Sun - - Sport - -Wales On­line

Tokyo: The New Zealand rugby me­dia have writ­ten off Wales and Ire­land’s World Cup chances .... de­spite both be­ing at the top of the global rank­ings dur­ing the sum­mer. In­stead out­spo­ken Kiwi colum­nist Chris Rattue sees the shoot-out for the Webb El­lis Trophy as a three­way fight be­tween the All Blacks, Spring­boks and Eng­land. War­ren Gat­land’s Wales headed off to Ja­pan yes­ter­day as the 2019 Six Nations cham­pi­ons and hav­ing usurped New Zealand as the No.1 team on the globe last month. The num­ber one ac­co­lade is now in the hands of Joe Sch­midt’s Ire­land hav­ing done the dou­ble over Wales dur­ing the four-Test World Cup warm-up cam­paign.

But Rattue has largely writ­ten off the north­ern hemi­sphere chal­lenge in the Far East, giving only 2003 win­ners Eng­land any hope of mix­ing it in the lat­ter stages with South Africa and the All Blacks.

The New Zealand Her­ald also placed Wales as only fifth favourites for the com­pe­ti­tion. Writ­ing in the Her­ald, Rattue who has pre­vi­ous with Welsh rugby, said: “And then there were three. “The closer the Rugby World Cup gets, the fur­ther away an up­set re­sult feels. It will come down to New Zealand, South Africa and Eng­land – all pre­vi­ous win­ners - surely. “Wales need more magic to score enough tries but in­di­vid­u­ally their backs don’t look threat­en­ing enough.

“The Welsh DNA is de­fence ori­en­tated and the loss of No.8 Taulupe Fale­tau crip­ples their lim­ited at­tack.

“So much de­pends upon the war­rior spirit of mighty lock Alun Wyn Jones, who will take a ham­mer­ing. “Ire­land should have gone into this tour­na­ment on a high, fol­low­ing a great cou­ple of seasons, but they are skid­ding into Ja­pan. “Too many of their best play­ers – in­clud­ing Johnny Sex­ton - are be­low top form, and like Wales they are a much tougher propo­si­tion at home.

“Aus­tralia are easy to eval­u­ate. They can beat any­one, but won’t beat enough of them. If they get to the fi­nal, they’ll be ripe for the pick­ing, as in 2015.

“Depth and power is what the World Cup is all about, and that’s where South Africa and Eng­land have the edge. “Ul­ti­mately, it’s im­pos­si­ble to go past the Big Three.

CK TO PLAY CHOIR TO

“Eng­land - with Maro Itoje, Ge­orge Kruis, Jamie Ge­orge and Co - are build­ing a mighty pack with a horses-for-cour­ses loose for­ward com­bi­na­tion. South Africa have an abun­dance of fright­en­ing power.

“I’d be far more bullish about the All Blacks if Brodie Re­tal­lick’s full fitness was as­sured and his best form es­tab­lished by the play-off stage.

“The in­jury prone Re­tal­lick is like Ire­land, limp­ing at the wrong mo­ment.”

Steve Hansen

Ed­die Jones

Rassie Eras­mus

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