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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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Can All Blacks shake 'chokers' tag?

By unknown | Oct 05, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

"Chokers" is never a nice term to use in sport but for New Zealand's All Blacks it is one that unfortunately hangs around their necks.

At both the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cups - held in England and Australia respectively - the Kiwis were strong favourites to lift the Webb Ellis trophy only to stumble in the semifinals to France and Australia.

This time around they are again odds-on favourites to lift the trophy but thoughts of whether they will be up for it on the night must be in the back of their minds.

Taking on the unpredictable French in Cardiff tomorrow (kickoff 9pm), the All Blacks have had an easy ride through to the quarterfinals.

In games against minnows Romania, Portugal, Italy and a second-string Scottish side, the men from Down Under have had an easy time of it these last couple of weeks.

By comparison, France seem to have got their campaign back on track despite the hiccup against fellow quarterfinalists Argentina in the opening game of the tournament.

Concern over the fitness of Kiwi flyhalf Daniel Carter, who is suffering from a calf injury, must be a major worry for coach Graham Henry.

"Daniel trained at 50 percent with the team this morning and looked fine to me," Henry told a press conference on Wednesday. "But he is not 100 percent at the moment.

"We are building him up gradually so he is ready for Saturday," Henry added.

Apart from this concern, the All Blacks are pretty much at full strength and should possess too much firepower for the French.

Perhaps now is the time for them to shake off that "choker" tag.


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