Fri, Aug 10, 2007 - Page 23 News List

O'Driscoll says he thinks All Blacks are now beatable


Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll believes he has seen signs that World Cup favorites New Zealand have lost their aura of invincibility.

O'Driscoll's side could face the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter-finals so he has been paying special attention to their recent matches.

Although New Zealand won the Tri-Nations tournament, O'Driscoll took encouragement from some erratic displays against Australia and South Africa.

Ireland, who have been drawn with France and Argentina at the World Cup, will meet Graham Henry's side in a quarter-final at the Millennium Stadium if they finish runners-up in Pool D.

O'Driscoll is convinced Ireland would have a chance of springing a shock because the All Blacks sometime struggle if they don't initially overwhelm their opponents.

"I saw most of the game in which Australia beat New Zealand in Melbourne," he said. "The Aussies showed that day that the longer you hang in the game, the more the All Blacks are there for the taking."

"It all comes down to taking your opportunities and Australia did that very well when they scored the match-winning try through Scott Staniforth," O'Driscoll said.

"Perhaps New Zealand showed greater form last year than they have in the Tri-Nations, but they could turn it back on come World Cup time," he said.

Petre Mitu will be left out of Romania's squad for this year's World Cup finals after the Montauban scrumhalf declined to play against Georgia earlier this year, Romania's Rugby Federation said yesterday.

"Romania's national team's staff decided not to include Mitu in the [World Cup] squad and the players agreed," spokesman Radu Constantin said.

Local media reported that Mitu has had "exaggerated financial demands" to take part to that match, which decided Romania's qualification for the World Cup finals in France.

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