Ben Smith Rugby World Cup – New Zealand profile: Full squad, head coach, key player, prediction and odds

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The reigning world champions, New Zealand once again head to the World Cup as favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy.

As three-time winners, having first tasted glory in the inaugural 1987 edition, the All Blacks‘ success at the tournament is unparalleled.

However, it’s hardly been plain-sailing for Kieran Read and his men ahead of Japan 2019. The side were held to a 16-16 draw by South Africa in July before going on to suffer a humbling 47-26 defeat at the hands of rivals Australia.

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Although the All Blacks avenged that loss with a 36-0 over the Wallabies in the return fixture, there’s a sense that the team’s aura of invincibility has been punctured.

Still, with an abundance of world-class talent at Steve Hansen‘s disposal, it’s hard to look past New Zealand as the team to beat at this year’s tournament. 

They’ve been drawn in Pool B alongside South Africa, Italy, Namibia and Canada.

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Ben SmithSquad

Backs:Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Sevu Reece, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert

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