Kieran Read: Seven countries can win 2015 Rugby World Cup
Crusaders and All Blacks star looks ahead to next year's Rugby World Cup title defence in England after northern tour success
New Zealand No8 Kieran Read believes seven countries are capable of winning next year’s Rugby World Cup in England.
The All Blacks, who finished their spring tour in the northern hemisphere undefeated after Saturday’s 34-16 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium, are aiming to become the first nation to successfully retain the Webb Ellis trophy.
“It’s tight at the top,” Read said. “Anyone in the top six or seven nations are good enough.
“We just have to keep playing well and keep improving. I think we will need to be better [at the World Cup].
“We will take a few lessons out of the teams we’ve played up here the last few weeks and we will have to adapt to who we play.”
The 29-year-old Crusaders star, the All Blacks captain-in-waiting when Richie McCaw hangs up his boots, also believes the pool of death that features England, Wales and Australia will benefit the two nations to reach the quarter-finals.
“It’s tough for all three of those teams in that pool,” he added.
“In some ways, the teams that come out of that pool will be conditioned and really ready to play knock-out footy.”
Reviewing the All Blacks’ win over Wales, which was comfortable on the scoreboard after a late surge of tries, Read admitted that it took the world champions longer to adapt, but they took their opportunities.
“It was tough and physical,” he said. “They put pressure on us in a few different areas that we probably didn’t respond to early enough.
“They played really well. It took a bit longer than what we wanted to adapt to what they brought to us, but we back ourselves as a squad.
“There were a few swings and roundabouts, and it is about taking your opportunities when they arise.”
Warren Gatland’s Wales side were criticised for not playing for 80 minutes, as they dropped off in the final quarter and the replacements didn’t bring the same level of intensity, but Read admits that is something the All Blacks do well, and they head off on holiday with four wins from their encounters with the USA, England, Scotland and Wales.
“We are confident in our ability to play 80-plus minutes,” he added. “There is always a great bench to add some good impact as well.
“We are happy. We came here to get three wins.
“This was the last game of the year for us, and sometimes you can be thinking about tomorrow.
“It was great to get over that mental hurdle, to step up, and play really well.”