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All Blacks favourites - O'Neill

Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill believes tournament hosts New Zealand remain favourites to end their 24-year World Cup drought, but reckons the Wallabies are "in with a real shout" of lifting the Webb Ellis trophy.

While Australia signed off on their preparation with confidence-boosting victories over South Africa and the All Blacks, the Kiwis enter rugby's showpiece event with rare back-to-back losses.

"It was very significant," O'Neill said of Saturday's 25-20 triumph over the All Blacks in Brisbane. "It was a great Test match, and clearly a great result. The timing was perfect. It gave us momentum going into the World Cup in 10 or 11 days time. The bookmakers price these things pretty accurately and the All Blacks are still favourites - we're second favourites."

He added: "When it was 20-all with 20 minutes to go, they're the sort of games we may have lost in the past, but we won and there was a lot of character and composure in that result.

"A lot of us have been keeping the faith and believe the win in Durban, backed up by the win at Suncorp is a sign that the faith that we've placed in the coach and the players is starting to come good.

"Tournament rugby... is in some ways very different but to win a Test match like that against the best in the world, it had all the tournament-style rugby aspects attached to it, and our blokes didn't flinch.

"Is it a key indicator? Well look, I'd rather have that momentum than not have it."


From Belfast Telegraph