In Summary
  • Pool B comprises New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Africa 1, and the repechage winner.
  • The All Blacks have never lost in pool play, but would be likely to qualify as one of the two top teams, even if they did lose to South Africa.
  • New Zealand lost to South Africa in the 1995 final but have won their last two World Cup meetings, including the 2015 semi-final.

WELLINGTON

All Blacks skipper Kieran Read on Thursday backed the Springboks to emerge from a prolonged form slump and pose a real threat when the rivals meet in pool play at the 2019 World Cup.

South Africa and New Zealand were both drawn in Pool C for the tournament in Japan, the first time they have ever faced each other in the group stages.
Read said it would be a "massive" clash and expected the two-time champions to be a much-improved team from the one that has slid to seventh in the world rankings.

"They certainly will be. Across the board teams perform at their best during a World Cup," the 97-Test veteran told Radio Sport.

"South Africa are a team that, with a couple more years of practising what they're trying to achieve, will be a much more dangerous side."

South Africa made the semi-finals of the last World Cup, but only after falling victim to one of the biggest upsets in the tournament's history when Japan beat them 34-32.

They then endured a horror 2016, losing eight of 12 Tests — a Springbok record for a calendar year.

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