New Zealand are firm favourites to complete a hat-trick of Rugby World Cup triumphs and are hard to oppose in the outright betting for the Japan spectacular.
The All Blacks edged out France in the 2011 decider on home turf and brushed aside Australia in the final in England four years ago.
Some of the old guard have gone, but Steve Hansen still has a wealth of talent at his disposal and 5/4 for them to lift the trophy again gets the nod in our Rugby World Cup predictions.
There are potential match-winners throughout the New Zealand side, headlined by Barrett brothers Beauden, Scott and Jodie.
A powerful forward pack plays with great intensity and consistency, while the All Blacks’ strength in depth remains a major advantage.
Outstanding full-back Ben Smith and the mercurial Sonny Bill Williams will both be on the bench for the opening game against South Africa, along with other proven performers.
“Any combination of players in our squad could have justified their selection,” said head coach Hansen.
“In today’s rugby environment, you need to have the mindset that it’s not just about who starts, it’s also about what the players coming off the bench can provide.
“As an example, we have a great one-two punch with Dane (Coles) and Codie (Taylor) at hooker and Aaron (Smith) and TJ (Perenara) at half-back.”
Having such a deep supply of riches to call on could well prove crucial in key matches at the business end of this tournament.
Wales can eclipse Wallabies in tightest pool
The Kiwis are odds-on to top Pool A ahead of the Springboks, while Ireland and England are short-priced favourites to prevail in groups A and C respectively.
Wales received a setback when Rob Howley returned home for disciplinary reasons but still stand out here in our book.
Fellow assistant coach Robin McBryde insisted the players had reacted positively to that saga.
“The intensity of our training was the best it has ever been,” declared the forwards specialist.
“There was a little bit of a feeling of circling the wagons and not allow anything to affect the environment.
“We definitely can’t wait to get going. We need to start talking about rugby again.”
Warren Gatland’s side lacked an edge in attack during a four-game World Cup preparation period that produced three defeats.
However, Wales were semi-finalists eight years ago and reached the quarter-finals in 2015, so they know how to come good when it matters.
This year’s Six Nations grand slam triumph is still fresh in the memory, plus they ended a 13-game winless run against Australia with a Cardiff triumph last November.
The Wallabies have not looked in great shape for a while now and Wales are fancied to eclipse them in this group in our Rugby World Cup betting tips.
If everything goes to plan, Wales will be in a separate half of the knockout draw to the All Blacks, so 3/1 for them to fare best in the market without New Zealand also appeals from the Rugby World Cup odds.
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