What should the All Blacks eat? How much sleep do they need? What if there is a scandal in the team?

1 .What are the added pressures for the team wanting to give Richie McCaw and other All Black veterans the best send-off?

Warrick Wood, sports psychology:

"The challenge in sport, particularly at pinnacle events, is to avoid focusing on uncontrollable elements and remain 'locked in' and engaged with the performance, therefore shifting attention away from the external pressure and maintaining focus on what is within the team's control. I expect they will be directing their attention towards the process they need to follow to be successful, and the outcome should take care of itself. Focusing on anything outside of their control during the game, such as winning for Richie McCaw, is essentially a distraction."

2. Food - What's the best food for winners?

Miriam Mullard, dietitian:

"Eating the right foods will optimise your energy levels and help you recover more quickly. Good hydration is key and it is important that you drink plenty before, during and after the game to avoid dehydration. Make sure you "fuel up" with carbohydrate-rich foods like cereals, breads, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Stick with what works for you in training and don't try anything new."


3. What does the legacy of the All Blacks mean to today's team? Does that kind of pressure help or hinder?

Andy Martin, sport management and coaching:

"The key to maintaining a winning culture is to focus on the pride in that legacy and winning, which is linked to a learning culture and collective leadership involving coaches, the captain and senior players. No one wants to let the jersey down. The jersey, the silver fern, and the haka help reinforce, through symbolism or by process, the values, beliefs and attitudes of over 100 years of All Blacks legacy ... that's hard to beat."

4. How many hours of sleep does an All Black need?

Dr Karyn O'Keeffe, Sleep/Wake Research Centre:

"Getting enough, good-quality sleep will be key to a good performance. Sleep is especially important for athletic performance, decision-making and mood during a game, as well as recovery between games. I imagine the All Blacks will have established a regular sleep routine in the new timezone, made sleep a priority and avoided things that could disrupt sleep, like using electronic devices in the evening and excessive caffeine intake."

5. What about mind preparation and relaxation - what are the proven techniques for defending a world title?

Professor Gary Hermansson, sport psychology:

"The team need to focus attention on the mental things they can control - like attitude, desire, presence, competitiveness, confidence, focus and, especially, enjoyment. Historically we have shown in various sports that when we are the underdogs we will beat anyone on our day, but make us favourites and typically we struggle. Every four years, we face this dilemma at the Rugby World Cup and every time we have struggled. How well we manage this mental hurdle will be critical again."

6. Does size matter?

Jeremy Hapeta, physical education and coaching:

"It appears that, in Rugby World Cup pool play at least, size matters. All Blacks players' height and weight have increased rapidly since the sport turned professional in 1996. Since then, in Rugby World Cup years, trends show that we tend to "stack" and "beef up" our team and there's evidence that suggests a direct correlation between weight and winning. For example, research clearly shows that the heavier teams in pool play made the quarter-finals in 2007 and 2011 (Barr, Newton & Sheppard, 2014). But in the final, they are a completely different beast, as we all know."


7. Alcohol - to drink a little or not at all?

Professor Sally Casswell, alcohol researcher:

"The general advice for drinking alcohol is "less is better". Certainly the kind of drinking the All Blacks were doing in post-match euphoria (or dysphoria) 10 years ago shocked their newly appointed coach. It's likely things have improved since then but clearly the team and other top rugby squads have their share of those who find it hard to control their drinking. My advice for the All Blacks is seek professional help if you need it, and get rid of the alcohol sponsorship you have enjoyed for the past 30 years. It's not a good fit. Other sponsors will step up, as they did when tobacco sponsorship was banned."

Former policeman, international rugby player, actor, and columnist Martin Bayfield picks the All Blacks as his favourite to win the Rugby World Cup because he sees the forwards as better 'ball players' and feels that maybe the vital difference between the sides for an All Blacks victory.

8. If there is a scandal in the team, how should the All Blacks deal with it?

Dr Chris Galloway, communications expert:

"It's important the All Blacks keep their heads down and their eyes off the media chatter. They don't want to attract negative attention for off-field antics, and other media commentary needs to become background noise. It's there, but doesn't warrant focus - until after they've won the final!"

9. What is the best recovery between successive games to avoid injury and fatigue?

Dr Sally Lark, sports Injuries and rehabilitation:

"Active recovery methods to help remove the toxic by-products in the muscles aid recovery between matches. Things like lots of stretching (while still game-warm or after that hot shower), then massage followed by more stretching. Cold and ice packs will alleviate the pain short-term but may mask a more serious muscle injury, so listen to your body."

10. What edge does the haka give the players?

Malcolm Mulholland, haka historian:

"When I think of the All Blacks performing the haka, I'm reminded of the Maori proverb 'Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takitini' - 'My valour is not that of the individual but that of the multitude. No one can survive alone'. If they perform the haka as one, and stay unified, no one can defeat them. The boys need to act as one, play as one and win as one. And remember, when they walk on to the playing field, they walk as one with every man who has gone before them, wearing the black jersey."