By GREG ANSLEY Australia correspondent

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is tipping the All Blacks to take the World Cup from the Wallabies - but he is not writing off his countrymen yet.

Howard, a tub-thumping champion of all things Australian, was forced to concede his nation's uphill battle as most of his nation's bettors also put their money on their transtasman arch-enemies.

"New Zealand and England - in that order - would have to be seen at the moment as the favourites, but it's not bad not to be the favourite, particularly when you hold the Cup," he said.

"I think we're going to find it tough, but I wouldn't write the Wallabies off for a moment.

"I think they went through their worst period [in] that Bledisloe Cup match of 26 July.

"I think they came back quite well in the match in Auckland [when the All Blacks regained the trophy] and their spirits were buoyed by their performance in that match."

The Northern Territory-based Centrebet has New Zealand at the shortest odds of $A2.25 ($2.57) to win the Cup, followed by England at about $A3 and the Wallabies at $A5.25.

Punters with Centrebet and the New South Wales TAB are also picking All Black Joe Rokocoko to be the top tryscorer, followed by countryman Doug Howlett and English winger Ben Cohen.

Gamblers back English five-eighths Johnny Wilkinson as top points scorer, ahead of All Black Carlos Spencer.

Howard's view of a Wallabies resurgence was echoed by Irish coach Eddie O'Sullivan.

"I think Australia are like a wounded animal," he said. "They've got something to prove and that makes them a very dangerous team."

Full World Cup coverage