All Blacks selector Grant Fox has revealed the squad has been told that Welshman Nigel Owens will referee the World Cup final.

The All Blacks will be delighted with the news, set to be officially revealed within the next 48 hours, believing Owens is overwhelmingly the world's best whistle-blower but also - crucially - that he polices the breakdown in a superior manner to any other referee.

Following New Zealand's gritty 20-18 semi-final triumph, Fox revealed World Rugby officials had told the All Blacks before the semis that Owens would handle the decider for the Webb Ellis Trophy at Twickenham next Sunday morning where the opposition will be either Australia or Argentina.

"Nigel is clearly the best referee in the world - he's demonstrated that," Fox told Newstalk ZB commentator Tony Veitch. "We knew before this game that he had that job should we get the opportunity to play in that game (the final)."


The All Blacks will be delighted to avoid another Cup encounter with English referee Wayne Barnes, who still remains largely unforgiven for his 2007 display in the All Blacks' losing quarter final, and Frenchman Jerome Garces who whistled 13 penalties, including nine in the first half, against Richie McCaw's men in this morning's semi-final.

Fox hinted the All Blacks regarded Garces' display as pedantic.

"Yes, discipline wasn't good enough (in the first half)," Fox conceded. "We were frustrated by that. I'm going to get into trouble for saying this but we didn't get much in return on the other side for all the pressure we built."

Fox openly agreed the All Blacks like playing under Owens who refereed their rollicking nine-try quarter final win over France last weekend.

"Like all referees, he will make the odd error," Fox said.

"But one of the key things he does, apart from communicating incredibly well with players, is that he lets the breakdown breathe. And that's really important. If you want to get a good contest and spectacle, you've got to let the breakdown breathe a little bit and he is really, really good at that. "

Fox also revealed coach Steve Hansen adjusted the All Blacks' attack at halftime, instructing Dan Carter and Ma'a Nonu to play flatter so New Zealand won the battle of the gain line.

"We didn't play flat enough (in the first half) so we didn't get the reward for our field position, so that was talked about that at halftime."


The former Superboot agreed the dying stages of the match were nerve-wracking.

"I was actually pretty confident about the 68-minute mark. We were five (points) ahead and all we needed was a penalty and we would be eight points up. But we just couldn't get it, so it was a pretty torturous last 12 minutes for me but we got there in the end.

You only need to win by one point and we won by two, so now we've got a chance to do the thing we came here to do - and that's to win back-to-back World Cups."

Gregor Paul and Patrick McKendry are at Twickenham were Steve Hansen's men are now in the final and with a show of defending their title after an unbelievably tense match. The Springboks, who got to this point with their narrow win over Wales in the quarter-final, put in a typically defiant performance and almost, almost, got home.

Fox said the All Blacks dressing room was emotional after the hard-fought win over New Zealand rugby's greatest foes and that coach Hansen gave a powerful post-match speech.

"We enjoyed the moment - it was a much more buoyant dressing room than last week because the difference is we've now got to where we want to be. You have to enjoy these moments; they don't come along very often, so that's really important. But right at the end, Steve spoke and it was actually a very emotional speech and it got everybody's feet back on the ground."