Rugby bosses have promised a rules re-think will make for more adventurous play at the World Cup after previous editions were characterised by dour defence instead of attacking flair.
Hosts and tournament favourites New Zealand can set the tone when they open proceedings against Tonga on September 9 in search of a long-awaited second world crown.
The All Blacks have developed a reputation for reigning over the sport with a razzle-dazzle style of play but only in 1987 has it translated into victory at the World Cup, where defence has been paramount.
Now they have seized on new law interpretations favouring the attacking team at the breakdown to interweave defensive strategies into their offensive patterns.
"Defence is hugely important in big events, in major tournaments, so that is going to play a part. And whether that defence can be aligned to attack, I expect it will be," said All Blacks backs coach Wayne Smith.
International Rugby Board (IRB) chief executive Mike Miller said the new rules interpretations had opened the way to more expansive play than seen four years ago at the last World Cup.
"I think it will be a more attack-minded, more attractive brand of rugby than the last World Cup," he said.
"People were kicking the ball away a lot [in 2007] because they were afraid of losing it in their own half. Now if you go into the breakdown, you've got more chance of retaining it than you did four years ago. There's less of that fear factor."
Although 20 teams qualified for the World Cup finals, only a handful have a realistic chance of lifting the trophy at Auckland's Eden Park on October 23.
In Pool A, New Zealand are up against France who have twice beaten them in the play-off rounds but have yet to win the Webb Ellis Cup, as well as Canada, Japan and Tonga.
England, the 2003 World Cup-winners and current Six Nations champions, head Pool B which also includes Argentina, Georgia, Romania and Scotland.
In Pool C are 1991 and 1999 winners Australia, along with Ireland, Italy, Russia and the United States.
Pool D features reigning champions South Africa, who also won the Cup in 1995, along with Fiji, Namibia, Samoa and Wales.
This is the second time New Zealand has hosted the World Cup after winning the inaugural tournament in 1987, although history shows holding the finals is no guarantee of success.
South Africa in 1995 are the only other hosts to have won, while on two other occasions -- England in 1991 and Australia in 2003 -- the host team was beaten in the final.
All Blacks coach Graham Henry also warned that carrying the world number one ranking could have a negative impact on his side.
"It may not be obvious. It may be there is a subconscious thought there that you are good enough. And that subconscious thought may be a negative. It may not give you the edge that you need to do the business," he said.
Organisers of the seventh Rugby World Cup are forecasting 95,000 international visitors to New Zealand for the tournament, and ticket sales have already reached a record revenue of NZ4 million (US7 million).
"This also means we have achieved nearly 10 times the revenue of the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour, the previous largest ticketing programme in this country," tournament Chief Executive Martin Snedden said.
New Zealand has declared itself ready for the World Cup with all facilities in place at the 13 host cities, including a purpose-built stadium in Dunedin and a revamped main venue in Auckland completed well before the tournament.
However, planning has not always gone smoothly with February's devastating earthquakes in Christchurch damaging the city's stadium and forcing the late relocation of seven World Cup matches.
The IRB was also forced to step in to ensure a funding dispute in Fiji was resolved, while New Zealand insists it will not let the Pacific country send players associated with the ruling military regime.
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