World Cup: 'Twickenham will be a massive challenge'

11:58 am on 10 September 2015

As the All Blacks fly out to England to defend the Rugby World Cup, veteran commentator Keith Quinn says their toughest competition isn't just on the field, it's in the English stands.

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Photo: PhotoSport

The All Blacks are boarding a flight to Britain tonight, with their first game against Argentina on 21 September, followed by pool matches against Namibia, Georgia and Tonga.

They are seeking to become the first team to win back-to-back Rugby World Cup titles, after claiming the championship in New Zealand in 2011.

Veteran commentator Keith Quinn told Morning Report defending the title was a "big job" for the All Blacks, but he had high hopes for a New Zealand victory at the tournament because of the depth of players in this country.

"I'm optimistic because the 31 that are chosen are very good. They did have that stumble in Australia, so they know they're not a perfect side, but their record is good.

"But it's not only the 31 getting on the plane, it's the others waiting at home. Because there will be injuries, so it's the back-up players at home who are still playing in the local provincial series who must still be on edge, because they could get the call to go and join the fray, as Stephen Donald did four years ago."

Quinn expects the toughest competition on the field to come from Australia and South Africa, but said England could not be underestimated, especially on home ground.

"England on Twickenham will be a massive challenge. The crowd there is 75,000 - Richie McCaw will only have to look at the ball and the crowd will start jeering and cheering that he is offside. And that kind of noise will put enormous personal pressure on the referees - they're only human beings. It could influence their decision making.

"So great care will need to be taken, if and when New Zealand gets ot the semi final and final stages on Twickenham ground and it might be antagonistic towards New Zealand. That might be their biggest challenge."

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