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2014 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship preview part three

France's Ryadh Sallem manages a big hit in the London Paralympics
France's Ryadh Sallem manages a big hit in the London Paralympics
Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

As the 2014 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship continues to get closer the Wheelchair Rugby Examiner continues to preview the teams, in this third edition, looking at the lower half of Pool B.

New Zealand
World Ranking: 10th
Best World Ranking: 1st (2005)
Best finish: 2nd (1998, 2006)
2010 finish: 9th
What can be said about the fall of the Wheelblacks, 2004 Paralympic champions have fallen from graace incredibly, now sitting on the precipice of dropping out of the top ten, for the first time in their history and desperately need to get back on track.

New Zealand came second in the 2006 edition of the tournament but since those highs they have fallen steadily, losing the 2007 zonal title to Australia and from there they have suffered from the growing power of the Asian sides, failing to qualify for the 2012 Olympics after they lost to Japan in the zonal semi-finals which saw their ranking slide below Japan's and have them miss out.

The 2014 World Championships puts New Zealand at a cross roads, they have to prove they are still worth their proud history, or else the name of the Wheelblacks will continue to drag down. New Zealand will be hoping to do much better than 2009 as they want to avoid becoming also-rans in the international stage, in the arguably weaker group they will have a good chance.

Player to watch: Dan Buckingham (3.0), Buckingham may have only been part of the Wheelblacks set up since 2011, but he has fast made himself a key part of the team. As a high-pointer, look for Buckingham to score a lot of New Zealand's goals.

France
World Ranking: 12th
Best World Ranking: 8th (November 2011: European Championships)
Best finish: First appearance
2010 finish: DNQ
France, perhaps the biggest shock in the wheelchair rugby world in recent years was France's qualifying for the 2012 London Paralympics, with their ranking beating New Zealand's and it is rather France's fault that New Zealand did not go to London.

France have not had much luck on the international stage, losing every single game in London, but they have not had many opportunities outside the European Championships. Expect the matchup against New Zealand, on day one of the tournament, to be a tense and feisty encounter.

Player to watch: Ryadh Sallem (3.5), the only member of the French team with more than 10 years experience, having been a member of the French Wheelchair Rugby team since 1991, he may be in his 40s but with a 3.5 classification can still do damage.

Germany
World Ranking: 8th
Best World Ranking: 6th (October 2008: Paralympic Games)
Best finish: 6th (1998)
2010 finish: 10th
The Germans have always been a team on the edge of making the elite group internationally, but seem to have been left behind by the explosion of the sport in Europe, with Sweden and Denmark's improvement relegating the Germans to fourth in the recent European Champions.

Despite that Germany have proven that they can get the results at international level, beating strong teams in the European championships, and with the championship being in Europe have a good chance to get back on track at this level. It will be a tough ask but Germany can get it done in a group without Great Britain, Australia and Canada.

Player to watch: Jens Sauerbier (2.0), Sitting in the middle of classification requires a lot of versatility and fitness, Sauerbier has proven again and again that he has that for this German side, and has proven he can get the job done at club level.