Rugby World Cup 2015: Pool C profile – New Zealand march on

Can anyone stop the all-conquering All Blacks, as Richie McCaw aims to become the first man to captain two World Cup winning teams?

New Zealand Rugby
(Image credit: Hannah Peters/Getty)

It's remarkable how a nation with a population of just 4.5 million can produce a never-ending supply of world-class rugby players. This year is no different, and the All Blacks arrive in England not just as the reigning champions but as the world's number one ranked team too. Hardly surprising, then, that they begin the campaign as the favourites even though they saw Australia lift the Rugby Championship title. The one question mark concerns the age and fitness of some of their key players, including captain Richie McCaw, prop Tony Woodcock and fly-half Dan Carter.

Star man: Richie McCaw

The most capped player in rugby union, the 34-year-old flanker had reached 142 caps prior to the start of the World Cup. The man who led the All Blacks to glory four years ago, McCaw has lost just 15 times during his remarkable career and he'll be desperate to finish on a high and become the first man to captain his side to two World Cups before he finally retires from Test match rugby in October.

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One to watch: Nehe Milner-Skudder

Every bit as dangerous as fellow Kiwi wing Julian Savea, Milner-Skudder has been scoring tries at will for the Hurricanes in Super Rugby this year. The 24-year-old former rugby league star made his All Black Test debut in August and celebrated with a brace of tries against Australia.

Coach: Steve Hansen

While he never represented New Zealand at international level, Hansen has proved he can get the best from them as a coach. An assistant to Graham Henry during the RWC 2011 campaign, he took over in December of that year and, as a 90 per cent win ratio proves, the All Blacks have never looked back.

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