In the history of the Rugby World Cup, the victors usually contain one of the best outhalves in the tournament. The roll of honour for World Cup winning outhalves is a who's who of greatness - Grant Fox (1987), Michael Lynagh (1991), Joel Stransky (1995), Stephen Larkham (1999), Jonny Wilkinson (2003), before Butch James (2007), and Stephen Donald (2011) broke the trend.
2011 was always going to be a New Zealand victory, and it was bizarre that they needed to rely on their fourth choice flyhalf who needed to be pulled from fishing to get into the squad. Stuart Barnes of the Sunday Times looks at the best outhalves of the World Cup to see who has the best chance to lifting their country to the Webb Ellis trophy.
Barnes describes the perfect world cup winning outhalf as one with precise goalkicking and tactical awareness, as well as the ability to run and get the most out of their backline. At 33, and after years of injuries should Dan Carter fall victim to the pressure or an injury, who is beyond the Kiwi as the best outhalf?
Barnes looks no further than Ireland's general as someone who has all the measurables.
If you are looking for the fly-half who ticks more boxes for World Cup-winning fly-halves than any other, it is the feisty Irishman.
His tactical use of the boot in last autumn’s victories against Australia and South Africa was awe-inspiring; he destroyed England with the accuracy and control of his game in Dublin and he is capable of dropping a goal under pressure.
We know he can do it. From the Johnny Sexton Heineken Cup final, to his performances in the last two years for Ireland - Schmidt will be relying on Sexton to shoulder Ireland into the semi-final.
There may be reasons to be pessimistic, but this is just another reminder that we do have the ability to do something special, once expectations are managed.
Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE