World Cup organisers have expressed confidence the tournament would be a spectacular success as hosts New Zealand unveiled their starting XV for the first game against Tonga.
IRB chief Bernard Lapasset said the stage was set for "an exceptional World Cup", which will start with a glittering ceremony at Auckland's Eden Park before the All Blacks and Tonga play on Friday.
"New Zealanders and 95 000 fans from all corners of the earth will join in celebration of a tournament that will deliver not just a sporting spectacle, but a festival that will showcase alI all that is great about this passionate rugby nation," the Frenchman said.
"New Zealand is ready. The teams are ready. The fans are ready. I have no doubt that this will be a Rugby World Cup that New Zealanders and the global rugby family will be proud of," he added.
Echoing Lapasset's commments, chief organiser Martin Snedden said although some 1 000 tickets were still available for the opener at 60 000-capacity Eden Park, sales were still on course to match forecasts.
He said New Zealand was ready to throw off its problems of the past year, including February's Christchurch earthquake disaster, a mining accident which killed 29 last November and a moribund economy.
"It's been a pretty tough 12 months or so in New Zealand with what's happened in Christchurch, with what's happened in Pike River with the mining disaster and with the economic situation," Snedden said.
"I think the country is ready to have fun. I think we're ready to have a party. I think we're ready to welcome and embrace the thousands and thousands of international visitors that are coming," he added.
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