Former All Blacks coach Laurie Mains says he’s “pretty confident” the All Blacks will beat the Wallabies in Sunday’s Rugby World Cup final.
“There’s too many indicators that they will win the game rather than lose it.”
The Queenstowner, who took the ABs to the World Cup final in 1995, singles out two factors in particular.
The first is the All Blacks’ try-scoring ability, which he says is greater than any other team in the competition.
“I think that is going to be the difference, as it was against South Africa [in the semi-final].”
Mains says so many of the backs like Aaron and Ben Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea and Nehe Milner-Skudder can break the line - “a half gap is all that is required for these guys to turn it into points”.
Complementing them, Dan Carter’s also in good form with the boot, he adds.
Mains says the other major factor is that “this All Blacks team has found a way over the last three or four years to win matches that they could have or should have lost”.
“And Australia has not over the last year or two demonstrated that as often.”
Mains also reckons that the Wallabies, having won four “really tough” games in a row, “won’t quite have that edge in the last 20 minutes”.
He believes it was unfair of World Cup organisers to schedule the semi-finals on consecutive days rather than the same day, meaning the Wallabies have one less day to recover than the All Blacks.
Mains suggests the All Blacks’ winning margin could be between three and seven – “it could be a fraction higher but who knows”.
“The difference between scoring a try and not scoring a try in the last five minutes can be the difference between winning by three points or 10 points.”
Though he expects both teams to use their backs, he thinks they’ll play for position so there’ll be less adventurous play from inside their own halves.
Mains is expecting a very tough, competitive game, but despite picking the ABs, warns that the best team doesn’t always win World Cup finals.
“I’ve had personal experience of that,” he says, harking back to 1995 when his ABs were beaten by South Africa.