Avert your eyes All Black fans because sacrilege follows in what we are about to say. A loss to arch rivals South Africa tonight could work in New Zealand's favour.

The Springboks are always a threat but in a tournament of few genuine contenders, it makes things easier if you can avoid the toughest opponents until the final. Ironically, the team that finishes second in Pool B, the All Blacks' pool, may have a less arduous path to the final.

Patrick McKendry, the Herald's chief rugby writer, yesterday wrote that he believes there are just three true contenders in