All Blacks ready to lift cup

New Zealand plan to seize the moment at Eden Park on Sunday and prove beyond doubt that the team who...

All Black captain Richie McCaw speaks during a press conference in Auckland on October 8, 2011. Picture: AFP

New Zealand plan to seize the moment at Eden Park on Sunday and prove beyond doubt that the team who consistently played the best rugby in the world can finally win a second World Cup.

While the All Blacks winning percentage remained the best in international sport, their failure to win the Webb Ellis trophy since the first tournament in 1987 has haunted a small nation in which rugby had become both a symbol of national pride and an obsession.

France have been New Zealand's bogey team, eliminating them twice at the knockout stages, and now only the French stand between the All Blacks and redemption after a bleak run of failures.

This year New Zealand's path to last Sunday's semi-final against Tri-Nations champions Australia was strewn with obstacles including a searching examination from Tonga in the opening match.

Daniel Carter, their immensely influential flyhalf, then made a premature exit from the tournament after sustaining a groin injury during kicking training.

To add to their woes, Captain Richie McCaw has barely trained for the past two weeks because of a chronic foot injury.

After an outstanding opening 20 minutes featuring wave after wave of nonstop attacks, New Zealand defeated Australia 20-6 to the noisy delight of a packed Eden Park.

"I've been with a lot of these guys for a long time and, although they may be ranked the leading team in the world, they've never been world champions," head coach Graham Henry said on Friday.

"It would be just marvellous to have that title because they've had every other title that's going in rugby apart from this one.

"So for Richie and the boys I think that would be fabulous and you don't deserve that title till you do the job. I think they're good enough and that would be the icing on the cake."

France, for their part, have relished the role of underdogs, determined to show the spirit which led to such feats as their famous 1958 series victory in South Africa, almost four decades before the All Blacks were able to beat the Springboks away from home.

The French have a rock solid front three and a quality back row, anchored by their towering number eight Imanol Harinordoquy.

But, when France is on song they can play rugby with a brilliance and flamboyance unmatched by any side in the world.