Rugby World Cup 2011: News round-up
2011 RUGBY WORLD CUP IN NEW ZEALAND
- 11 (nine in North Island, two in South)
- Fri 9 Sept - Sun 23 Oct
- From 0100 BST - 0930 BST
- Scores & reports on BBC Sport website plus live text commentaries on home nations and other major games; updates on BBC Radio 5 live; watch on ITV; commentary on talkSPORT
A round-up of the latest news, views and gossip from the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Latest: New Zealand legend Jonah Lomu remains in an Auckland hospital amid growing concern about his health. The 36-year-old was recently admitted to Auckland City Hospital's renal and transplant unit. He underwent a kidney transplant in 2004. No official statements have emerged from the hospital about Lomu's condition, but friends and former playing colleagues are said to be concerned.
Two members of England's coaching team have been suspended by the Rugby Football Union from Saturday's pool decider against Scotland. Kicking coach Dave Alred and fitness specialist Paul Stridgeon were found to have illegally switched balls during England's 67-3 victory over Romania last weekend.
Wing Bryan Habana is convinced the Springboks are capable of retaining the World Cup despite anticipating a huge physical battle against Samoa on Friday. "Within the team there's definitely a belief that we can go on and win this World Cup," said South Africa's record try-scorer.
Captain Finau Maka has been recalled to the Tonga team for their final pool match against France on Saturday as they target an unlikely win to reach the quarter-finals. Maka, a long-time servant of Toulouse in the French Top 14, is one of four changes his brother Isitolo, the team's coach, has made to the team that beat Japan 31-18 last week.
Manager Martin Johnson insists England must treat Saturday's showdown with Scotland as a do-or-die clash, despite the fact a losing bonus point should be enough to book a quarter-final place. "It's knockout rugby," said Johnson, who has made three changes for the game. "We have to win, they have to win. We are not talking about getting a losing point."
Italy full-back Luke McLean wants to reward outgoing coach Nick Mallett with a place in the quarter-finals with victory over Ireland on Sunday, the Azzurri having narrowly missed out on a last-eight place in 2007 following an 18-16 loss to Scotland. "When Nick took over the team, his goal was to make it through to the quarter-finals," said McLean. "He's had a lot of experience with big games and he really helps the boys stay calm and focused."
Number eight Radiko Samo will play on the wing for an injury-hit Australia who welcome back open-side flanker David Pocock for their final pool match against Russia on Saturday. Samo, 35, hasn't started on the wing since he played club rugby for the Canberra Vikings in 1999. So depleted are the Wallabies that coach Robbie Deans has been forced to pick two hookers and two scrum-halves on the bench.
New Zealand number eight Kieran Read will definitely play in Sunday's final pool game against Canada on Sunday, despite limping out of training after rolling the ankle that has kept him out of the tournament so far. Assistant coach Steve Hansen said: "He's as good as we can have him. I don't think he's ready to play 80 minutes. He's been out for five weeks, so he probably won't play the whole game. "
Romania captain Marius Tincu, whose side lost all four of their pool matches, has rejected calls for the IRB to restructure the World Cup into a two-tier competition and allow the lower-ranked countries to compete for a 'World Trophy' rather than the World Cup. "I think if they change the tournament it's not good for rugby," Tincu said. "Because if you don't play against the big teams, you don't go up. You stay at the same level (and) I think the IRB's (goal) is to help the little nations go up."