Kieran Read backs All Blacks pack to fire New Zealand to Rugby World Cup glory

Jared Wright
Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read and Springboks v New Zealand maul at Twickenham.

Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read and Springboks v New Zealand maul at Twickenham.

All Blacks legend and former captain Kieran Read believes that New Zealand’s forward pack will win the Rugby World Cup final for Ian Foster’s charges.

Read claimed back-to-back World Cups with the All Blacks in 2011 and 2015 before captaining the side in 2019.

The former World Rugby Player of the Year predicts that his fellow countryman will come out on top in the 2023 final against the Springboks, with the forwards winning the game for the side.

The All Blacks‘ pack face a daunting task in the tournament’s finale, with the Springboks selecting seven forwards on their bench and just one backline replacement, while Foster has opted for the more conventional 5-3 split.

Pack to power All Blacks to victory

However, Read backs the All Blacks to overcome the challenge, and if they do, they have the backs to capitalise on the opportunities created.

“Our forward pack is going to win the game for us. We’ve seen that the Boks have two forward packs, one to start, one to come on. They are going to come out firing, so our big boys will win the game,” Read said.

“I think they can match them in that area. If they do that, I truly believe they’ve got the backs, exciting players to unlock the Springboks defence.”

The 127-Test cap former All Black hailed the Springboks’ coaching staff for having the guts to select seven forwards, a risky tactic particularly for a Rugby World Cup final.

“You’ve got to hand it to Rassie; he’s got the gumption to go for it. It’s a little bit of an all-in play. It’s risky, it has its risks,” he said.

“From the All Blacks point of view, it just reaffirms how much our forwards are going to have to work in the game. It offers some options too for us later in the game, to run against some tired backs potentially.”

Brits backs Springboks

Fellow Rugby World Cup winner and ex-Springboks hooker Schalk Brits believes that South Africa will come out on top and says that the current squad is better than the 2019 team, which he was involved in, that won the tournament.

“Rassie is rolling the dice. He understands that playing the top six sides in the world was extremely tough on the bodies. There was definitely physical and mental fatigue when we played England,” he said.

“He is going all in on a proper South African strategy by dominating from a forward perspective and giving a bit of space for the backs to do what they do best, either kick some goals or make magic in the backline.

“I think this squad is better than we had in 2019. What is different is we can play both styles of the game. When all odds are against us, we grind it out and somehow find a way to win.”

Commenting on the 7-1 split on the bench, Brits says that the Springboks players no longer worry about whether they are starting or not.

“Everyone wants to wear the number one (starting) shirt, but if the focus is not about entitlement then it’s not about me wearing that shirt but the best player for that specific role in that specific game who will be best equipped to do the best for the team. He (Erasmus) did sell it to the team that this is his best strategy,” he said.

“At times he, (Erasmus) has got it wrong he has put his hands up and said ‘listen, I made a mistake, and I’ll take ownership for that loss’. The players then trust in him, and then you want to win for that guy.”

READ MORE: Schalk Brits exclusive: What makes the Springboks scrum and ‘Bomb Squad’ tick