The Rugby World Cup is finally upon us and as host nation, we are hoping to put on a spectacular show. England and Wales are in the 'pool of death' alongside Australia, so it looks set to be an exciting couple of weeks to see if both teams can progress.
When looking at potential winners, it really should be New Zealand. Then again, we said that in 1995, 1999 and 2007. The difference this time is that half-a-dozen rivals also feel they can lift the Webb Ellis Cup. This event will be no casual coronation.
However would you entirely bet against England in a World Cup final played at Twickenham? There will be a significant twist somewhere down the line.
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New Zealand. Hands down. They have been for every World Cup apart from 1991 and 2003.
With all that talent and rugby history, they surely are in the best place to give legends Richie McCaw and Dan Carter a true send off.
But with only two World Cup titles to their name and the fact no nation has defended their title yet it seems a fairytale too far. Also don't forget both World Cups won by New Zealand were won on home soil. Travel appears an issue when it comes to the world stage.
Prediction: Don't bet on them. Semi-Final finish for McCaw and his men.
England: The pretenders. This group of young men have what it takes to challenge the All Blacks there is no question of that. Add in the Twickenham factor, England are in the best position to challenge Rugby's elite for at least a decade. However is it one World Cup too soon for this young, exciting side?
Prediction: Heart says final (maybe winners) but head says Semi-Final departure.
Australia: The resurgent. This group of talented Mavericks are surely the only side who possess more talent and skill than the All Blacks. Their recent victory over New Zealand in the Rugby Championship is a prime example of that. But the question remains, can they be consistent enough to prize the title away?
Prediction: Destined for the Final.
Ireland: The Old Dog. They possess a knack and it's a magnificent one. This squad and coach just have that knack of winning games when they shouldn't. Has their time come? Can they do something special without the man known as BOD (Brian O'Driscoll)?
Prediction: Lack something world-class. Semi-Final exit for the Irish. But it will be tight.
The Dark Horse
France: The rugby enigma. They’ve been to three finals, and it’s about time they won it. Don’t know how they’ll do it but neither do they. Presumably it will be via a multitude of scrapes and close shaves, and will involve several flirtations with disgrace and dismay. Prepare yourself, dangerous dark horses, worth a punt.
Prediction: Somehow will end up at the final contesting for the trophy.
The Players to Watch
David Pocock: The Wallaby flanker is that rare animal: a player capable of transforming an entire nation’s prospects. Can he out-gun Richie McCaw once more just as he did in the Rugby Championship?
Julian Savea: New Zealand's most potent weapon. The All Black winger could have the tournament to match that of Jonah Lomu. He has searing pace and an abundance of power to go with it. Will surely score eight tries in the tournament.
Anthony Watson: England greatest talent. The Bath back three has shown a natural instinct for crossing the white line and has some of the best footwork in the game. Sit tight and watch the number 14 scare a few.
Isreal Folau: Simply extraordinary. The fullback has got absolutely everything. A natural rugby player with every quality and skill under the sun. He could carry Australia to the final.
Player of the Tournament
Matt Giteau: Was in test exile, after venturing to European juggernauts, Toulon. However, it's all change since the exile was lifted. Jonny Wilkinson always said he made his life at Toulon very easy and should have got more praise than he did. Australia has one of the world's best players in this man and his experience and rugby nous will surely help as they look for a third crown.
My winning pick regrettably is that in the green and gold, Australia. They will face either France or England in the final.
However, sit tight folks there are many twist and turns in this one.
Rugby fans: Who will win the 2015 Rugby World Cup? Give us YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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