New Zealand World Cup player ratings
NZPA
October 7, 2007

Daniel Gilhooly of NZPA assesses the performances of the All Blacks at the 2007 World Cup

LEON MACDONALD 7.5
Quality performance against Italy after lengthy break and played most of Portugal game in place of injured Muliaina. Bruised thigh removed him early from Scotland game and ruled him out Romania. Very busy night against France and generally handled it well, one of the backs to keep their head.

MILS MULIAINA 7
Mr versatile. Started against Italy at centre and seven minutes against Portugal at fullback before hamstring struck, ruling him out of Scotland and Romania. Returned at centre against France and was sound as ever but question marks remain over his best position. World class back.

DOUG HOWLETT 8.5
In the form of his life and unlucky not to make French cut. Ended top NZ tryscorer with six, lifting him to top of All Blacks all-time test list. Renowned Work rate on show in full games against Italy and Scotland. Munster's gain.

JOE ROKOCOKO 7.5
Ran amok with five tries against minnows Portugal and Romania but didn't find the going so easy against French, although not for lack of effort. Howlett's test record is his for the taking if form remains.

SITIVENI SIVIVATU 6.5
Couldn't discover the brilliance of last year and had a fumbling game to forget against Scotland. Started every game except Portugal and played more minutes than any All Black at the tournament (301). Scored four tries.

CONRAD SMITH 6
Seaon-long injury woes continued into Italy game, from which he pulled out with hamstring strain. Sound but quiet against Portugal and Scotland and missed out to Muliaina for French centre spot.

ISAIA TOEAVA 6
One of four players to play in every game but always appeared ranked as utility value rather than starting centre. Started on wing against Portugal and centre versus Romania. Youngest member of the squad and talented but still not yet up to big test class.

LUKE MCALISTER 7
Massive talent to be leaving for Europe at just 24. Criticised for being greedy but few of his peers were making the same breaks, especially against France. Option-taking may settle with a couple of years at Sale. Second to Sivivatu for minutes played, including start at first five-eighth against Romania.

AARON MAUGER 6.5
A couple of decent hitouts againt Portugal and Romania hardly a memorable way to end an excellent career. Was supposedly an important off-field presence for the backs. His cool head may have been useful against France but a lack of versatility counted against a bench spot.

DANIEL CARTER 7
Never found best form all year. Kicking in general play probably his best element against Italy, Scotland and France but lacking the running zip of previous seasons. Calf strain limited his quarterfinal contribution.

NICK EVANS 8
Excellent tournament and it is to be hoped a more prominent role can be found for him next year. Acceleration to burn left defenders from Portugal, Scotland and Romania grasping. Goalkicking was best in the team too. Limited late chance against France but limped off injured.

BYRON KELLEHER 7
Leaves for Toulouse with third Cup disappointment. Started big games against Italy, Scotland and France but couldn't reach 60-minute mark in any. Tough around the fringes but didn't make the breaks that were his early career hallmark.

BRENDON LEONARD 6
Didn't provide the impact of his early tests in four bench appearances at this tournament and was serviceable in his one start, against Portugal. With Kelleher leaving, will want to prove him self from now as a starting option.

ANDREW ELLIS 6.5
A quality 60 minutes against Romania and off the bench against Portugal but the man who replaced Piri Weepu in controversial circumstances was never going to feature in the big ones.

RODNEY SO'OIALO 8
Class all round performer against Italy, Scotland and France, although the marred by the odd handling error. Brilliant try against the French epitomised massive fitness and strength levels which make him part of a loose forward trio the All Blacks will dearly want to retain.

SIONE LAUAKI 5.5
Touted as a potential gamebreaker pre-tournament but didn't deliver consistently. Handled the ball plenty in starts against Portugal and Romania but didn't produce the yardage nor devastation on defence hoped for. Unlucky to be suspended for two weeks after Romania game. It was overturned but unlikely he would have made the cut for France.

RICHIE MCCAW 8.5
Doesn't have a bad game, although some are better than others. France was a goodie, doing everything to exhort his charges. Made rugby's toughest position look easy in pool play. Thankfully has re-signed for a couple more years and is sure to stay as skipper.

CHRIS MASOE 7
Busy tournament, playing in every game and had some lively moments. There's a gulf between he and McCaw but versatility makes him a useful tourist.

JERRY COLLINS 8.5
The most played forward with 288 minutes and his standards rarely dropped. Captain against Portugal and Romania shows his growing status. Rumours that he will head to Europe post-2008 are a touch disturbing.

REUBEN THORNE 7
Let nobody down in two 80-minute toils at lock against Scotland and Romania after coming back from hamstring strain. Valuable as it gave other locks a chance to rest. More than likely his All Blacks swansong.

ALI WILLIAMS 9
Best player of the campaign. Remarkable considering how little rugby he's had and the domestic issues that have pursued him this year. Attacked French lineout with gusto and was everywhere around the park in starting each of the first three games. Career going from strength to strength.

CHRIS JACK 7.5
Started the first two games but off the bench for the last three in a slightly ignominious end to an excellent 67-test career. Didn't do a lot wrong but selectors preferred Robinson's mongrel over his athleticism for quarterfinal.

KEITH ROBINSON 6.5
Carried through the first three weeks battling a calf injury. Finally returned for a couple of 50-minute bursts against Romania and France but questionable whether he was ready for the latter. Not questionable is his commitment and mental toughness.

CARL HAYMAN 7.5
No surprise had his scrummaging way against weak pool opponents. Not so easy against the French although All Blacks still had upper hand. Possibly NZ rugby's most damaging loss ever of a player overseas when he heads to Newcastle.

GREG SOMERVILLE 6
Won a long battle to make it to the tournament, overcoming Achilles and eye injuries. However, lack of rugby showed. Off the pace a touch against Portugal and Romania so was beaten to reserve bench spot by Tialata. Could be important figure next year with Hayman missing.

NEEMIA TIALATA 6.5
Never showed the authority hoped for, also against Portugal and Romania but at least got some bench time against Italy and and Scotland. Not called for off the bench against France, reflecting the gap between he and the first-choice props.

TONY WOODCOCK 7.5
Destructive as ever and will need to take the lead next year if the All Blacks are to keep their repuation as the world's best scrum. One of the leading performers of 2007.

ANTON OLIVER 7.5
Made an obvious difference to the scrum and was a reliable lineout thrower. Less mobile than his colleagues and never more than a 60-minute man but still useful at the fringes. Heads to Toulon and will be missed by the media for his eloquent, forthright views.

KEVEN MEALAMU 7
Disappointing campaign ended by a hamstring strain that pushed him off the reserve bench against France. Started well against Italy but selectors decided early that the stronger Oliver was their man, meaning only other start came against Romania.

ANDREW HORE 7.5
Limited chances, with only start coming against Portugal but the made most of it and three bench appearances. Strong at maul and with ball in hand, could battle hard with Mealamu next year.

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