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Now we have an angst main to go with a selection of angsty sides for the table. If  the All Blacks’ form being shakier than Clive Woodward’s grasp on reality wasn’t bad enough, now we’ve got you-know-who, you-know-where in the first knockout.

New Zealanders are jittery enough during rugby world cups without this kind of shit. Otherwise fully functional adults, many with gainful employment in the news media, cranked into talk of ‘omens’ and ‘Utu’ even before Ireland and France actually played each other. As if we needed more excuses to go on and on about our 2007 tournament exit, the action replay will send the not-getting-over-it into over-aroused overdrive with no-one likely to emerge from this week’s build up with much credit.

Meanwhile, France will sleep like babies. They know that someone has to play the villain, and will spend the week twirling their mustaches, shrugging and listening to Daft Punk. Probably. They’re happy for all the pressure to be with us, while masterminding putting us through torture for 80 minutes.

All Black mood board

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We probably didn’t need the panic button just yet, but it’s been firmly pushed none the less.

We appear to have the talent and experience to win it, but the question is, do we have the form? Take the BLACKCAPS, who didn’t have the strongest squad in CWC15, but had everyone firing before the tournament and through the pool matches. Painful as it is, remember who took that trophy home, the experienced old Aussies.

We have to hope this is a similar scenario, all those centurions and the coaching panel dream team have the know-how to get themselves through. I don’t buy the ‘holding back’ thingo, I reckon the chips just aren’t down yet. It’s inexplicable that this great team has simply forgotten how to play between wasting the Aussies at Eden Park and this tournament. Gregor Paul reckons we should just chill, and I largely agree.

Anyway team, Sunday morning, it won’t matter who kept the faith, who wrote who off, who pointed out you can never tell which French team will turn up on the day the most or who said ‘bring it on!’ in the most chipper manner. We’ll either be still in the tournament, or impatiently waiting to get through to Tony Veitch to demand Robbie Deans gets the top job.

Fuck. Fuck! I can’t handle it already.

Your sportreview.net.nz quarter final predictions, bearing in mind sportreview.net.nz is a notoriously poor tipster

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Welsh injury toll mounts by the hour.

South Africa v Wales – South Africa. They’ve sorted themselves out from being on the receiving end of a Japanese fairy tale to be among the favourites, while Wales are being forced to play Charlotte Church in the front row.

Ireland v Argentina – Argentina. Too big and too strong for the Irish, who have similar injury issues to Wales along with a long history of world cup quarter final heartbreak.

Australia v Scotland – Scotland. Just jokes! Australia’s challenge will be maintaining their momentum. There’s the odd chink, like their discipline, and their coach, who is overdue to do something flaky.

New Zealand v France – Us. I think we’re going to waste them.

Enduring images of the World Cup thus far
Teams desperately defending their lines. Australia did it for about three quarters of an hour against Wales, while the All Blacks did well to repel Tonga on a St James surface that was parting like the Red Sea. There’s been bugger all free-flowing back play to speak of.

Reporters haranguing fans outside stadiums. My favourite was the really, really shitfaced young New Zealander struggling manfully to articulate all the ways his national team had disappointed him by beating Namibia by only 44 points. People with cameras thrust in their faces are unlikely to offer much in the way of useable insight or even joined up sentences, so instead we get ‘colour’ by way of yelling, outlandish wigs and borderline xenophobic banter. It’s rubbish and I would like to see less of it please.

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Dead set priceless banterâ„¢.

The royal bloody family. You can’t turn on the telly without seeing Wills looking smug, Harry looking sick as a parrot and the Queen having everyone over for a pimms and a backslap when the national team should be in a Cardiff hotel room shitting their pants.