Rugby World Cup 2011: News round-up

2011 RUGBY WORLD CUP IN NEW ZEALAND

Venues:
Quarters: Wellington & Auckland; semis/final: Auckland
Dates:
Quarters: 8/9 Oct; Semis: 15/16 Oct; Final: Sun 23 Oct
Kick-offs:
Quarters: 0600/0830 BST; Semis and final 0900
Coverage:
Live text commentary, scores & reports on BBC Sport website; updates on BBC Radio 5 live; watch on ITV;
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw
McCaw returned to training on Wednesday after recovering from a foot injury

A round-up of the latest news, views and gossip from the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw will carry a painful foot injury into the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals against Argentina on Sunday, but winger Zac Guildford, who scored four tries against Canada last weekend, has been ruled out after injuring his hamstring.

Argentina's physical trainer Simon Fathers is confident the Pumas can pull off a huge shock and beat his native New Zealand in Sunday's quarter-final. The 35-year-old Kiwi said: "There's no doubt or confusion as to which team I want to win - the Pumas. We should be confident that we can beat them and I believe we can do it. The Pumas have the preparation, the conditioning, the technique. They have to believe in themselves." New Zealand have won 12 of their 13 meetings, with the other game drawn.

Captain John Smit returns to lead South Africa in their quarter-final against Australia on Sunday, replacing Bismarck du Plessis, who drops to the bench. Wingers JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana are both included although Pietersen faces a late fitness test, but lock Bakkies Botha has suffered a recurrence of an Achilles injury and could be out of the tournament.

New Zealand assistant coach Steve Hansen has asked the International Rugby Board to initiate a "global season" to help the management of injuries. "Rugby league get 16 weeks to get rid of all their niggles and have a pre-season," he said. "Rugby union has four or five weeks before they have to go back into work."

More than 20,000 tickets are still available for the four quarter-finals taking place this weekend. There are around 12,500 vacant seats for the England v France match, while New Zealand's game against Argentina has more than 4,000 tickets up for grabs. The Ireland v Wales game is 1500 sales shy of a full-house and there are 4,000 tickets still to be sold for Australia v South Africa.

Sonny Wool, a 'psychic' sheep from New Zealand, has 'predicted' England will beat France in Saturday's quarter-final. He has been compared to Paul the Octopus from the 2010 football World Cup because he chooses which team will win by selecting one of two boxes of food put in front of him, each of which has a nation's flag on. Sonny, who has successfully chosen New Zealand to win its last four matches, also reckons the All Blacks will defeat Argentina, Ireland will triumph over Wales and South Africa will beat Australia.

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