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David Wallace: McCaw must win toughest back-row battle of his life to achieve history

29 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
David Wallace: McCaw must win toughest back-row battle of his life to achieve history

The Betway ambassador believes the fight for supremacy between the two players in his old position will produce a World Cup final to remember

For so long New Zealand and Australia have been considered as the two best teams on the planet, but we have had to wait nearly three decades to see them take on one another in the World Cup final.

To have the two best attacking sides around going all out for the trophy should make for a fantastic display of open, flowing rugby.

That would be a wonderful thing, not just for the tournament but for the sport in general with so many coaches and players watching around the world.

Added to that you have Nigel Owens as referee, who loves to let the game breathe rather than stifle it by awarding penalty upon penalty.

With the two canniest back row forwards in the game going head-to-head, it will certainly be interesting to see how he controls the breakdown area that will likely decide the contest.

Richie McCaw is a man who has completely revolutionised the role of the No. 7, and this could well be his final ever game in an All Blacks jersey.

He has never been the strongest ball carrier or most prolific tackler, but he is a real innovator who has developed little intricacies in order to do things that other players have never even thought about.

Just small, minute details like his technique of getting in a position to steal the ball from a player before he had even hit the deck meant that you always had to keep two sets of eyes on him to make sure that he did not open you up.

I was lucky enough to play against him when he won his first cap at Lansdowne Road and was immediately named as man of the match – so I actually credit myself for starting his career off by putting him on the right footing!

If the game of rugby is to lose one of the all-time great flankers in McCaw after this tournament, then in David Pocock we have a player with the potential to be even better.

It can often be difficult for back-row forwards to be both light enough to get around the park to the breakdown and strong enough to ensure that they cannot be easily moved once they get there, but Pocock strikes the perfect balance.pocock-hooperHe and Michael Hooper are the two finest poachers in the game at the moment, and the pair seem to work in tandem and complement each other very well.

When one is missing the other one seems to have a quieter game, and when both are playing they seem to spur each other on with a bit of one-upmanship.

If one guy makes a turnover then the other seems to want to get the next one or maybe even two, and that drives them on to reach new levels.

Those poaches in open play are worth double or perhaps even treble stealing a line-out or winning a scrum against the head, because defences are never as set as they are off first phase.

Against players like that you need to commit more numbers to the breakdown which in turn leaves you with fewer players out wide and thus decreases the resources and effectiveness of your attack.

Rather than insert two guys into a ruck to secure the ball suddenly you need to send in three or four to clear out the opposition and ensure that you are getting it back.

The game is certainly a very tough one to call.

On the back of the last four years you would probably say that New Zealand deserve to retain the trophy.

They have been one of the most successful sporting teams ever with a record and win ratio that speaks for itself, all while playing the majority of their games in arguably the toughest era that the Rugby Championship has ever seen.

However, Michael Cheika has added a steely resolve to Australia since taking over and they did manage to take the scalp of the All Blacks just before the tournament.

If the Wallabies can get their own way up front then their team is packed with the firepower out wide to take full advantage.

We have seen in a few finals of late that teams can tend to try and win it from the tee, but this time around New Zealand and Australia both know that the other team will be looking to go out and attack them.

With the knowledge that whichever team scores the most tries will win, it will be rugby in its purest form – and I cannot wait to see how it unfolds.

New Zealand v Australia match betting

READ: Mike Tindall: Last chance to appreciate the grit and guile of Southern Hemisphere old-timers

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READ: Mike Tindall in Man v Machine: Final Round

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