The warm temperatures in London aren't the only things the All Blacks will have to quickly get used to as they prepare for the World Cup.

They're also going to have to get to grips with an interest in rugby which for the England nation over the next two months is likely to be unprecedented.

The queue at Heathrow Airport's border control early today (Fri NZT) after a long flight was familiar enough for this particular passenger, as were the newspapers being full of Wayne Rooney and the England football team - but less so was the topic of conversation from the middle-aged Englishman manning the No17 desk.

"So, who will win it?," he asked, by way of introduction. "Any of five nations, probably," was my unhelpful answer. "Has a Northern Hemisphere team got a shot?" he asked.


"Sure - Ireland, France, England...," I said.

"I hope France don't win it," he replied.

"It could be Ireland v New Zealand in the final," I said. He replied: "If you want to beat Ireland, take out [first-five] Johnny Sexton, it's as simple as that."

All Blacks Head Coach, Steve Hansen, and Richie McCaw, All Blacks Captain, talk about the preparation for the Rugby World Cup.

England won't take the tournament to heart like New Zealand did last time - it's too big, busy and diverse to do that, and there were few signs of it during the drive into the city from the airport in the bright afternoon sunshine - apart from a brewery urging drinkers to celebrate the occasion with a local brew.

But if the curiosity of my new friend at border control is any indication, the hype is building, and All Blacks' official welcome at the Tower of London early tomorrow NZ time and the impending England v Fiji tournament opener at Twickenham next Saturday will only add to it.

London's Daily Telegraph gave over a two-page spread to an interview with Zinzan Brooke, the former All Black No8, with a special mention to his dropped goal from 47m against England at the 1995 World Cup in South Africa.

Brooke, based in England and who was pictured with three of his six children, is another who is unsure how the tournament will play out.

"Genuinely, any one of five or six countries could win it," Brooke told the newspaper.


"Everyone says New Zealand, but maybe because I'm too close I can see flaws. You can't rule out Australia. I've got Ireland down as my wild cards."

And, presumably tongue in cheek, he added: "Here's how tight it is, you can't even rule out England."

He added later: "It's going to be brilliant. I think England will host a great World Cup. Though there is one thing: you want everyone to be talking about it.

"So I really hope England get out of the pool of death. Truth is, it will ruin it if England don't, which would be bad for everybody. It would be a real downer."

Back to my friend at border control, who said: "The truth is New Zealand could win it with their second string team."

"Hmmm...," I replied. "I think that was the mistake they made in 2007."

"Oh well," he said. "It could be interesting."

Sure could.