Rugby World Cup 2011: News round-up
Last updated on .From the section Rugby Union
A round-up of the latest news, views and gossip from the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
New Zealand nervousness ahead of Sunday's semi-final against Australia was not helped by a flurry of concern over the fitness of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw on Wednesday. The sighting of young Canterbury Crusaders flanker Matt Todd, first at the team hotel and then at All Blacks training, provoked immediate speculation that McCaw's "niggly" foot injury may be more serious than feared. Todd regularly understudies McCaw in the Super 15. All Blacks manager Darren Shand moved quickly to quash the rumours, saying Todd had been called in along with a number of Auckland Blues players to provide opposed training for the All Blacks. McCaw has taken a restricted role in training during the World Cup while battling the injury.
All Blacks flankers Jerome Kaino and Victor Vito also inadvertently added to the speculation that McCaw might not make the Wallabies clash. "If Richie sits out (the semi-final) we have guys like Victor and Thommo (Adam Thomson) who can step in, and we know they'll go quite well," Kaino said. Vito added: "Be it that he can't play...either Thommo or myself can fill in there."
Australian full-back Kurtley Beale is looking increasingly unlikely to be fit for the All Blacks clash. Beale missed training for the second day in a row with the hamstring strain which forced him off in the quarter-final win over South Africa. "We're still optimistic, he's working really hard on his rehab, he's doing everything he can to be there," said captain James Horwill. James O'Connor is most likely to switch from the wing if Beale is not fit.
France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili is confident he will be fit for Saturday's first semi-final against Wales despite sitting out training for the last three days with a thigh injury picked up in their quarter-final win over England. "I'm fine, things are following their natural course," he said. "I started running again this morning, I'm still in the healing phase but everything's coming along well."
France wing Vincent Clerc believes Wales have weaknesses Les Bleus can exploit despite acknowledging they have "had some great matches in this tournament". "The Welsh team has been very strong, although they have weaknesses, and we are looking to target those weaknesses," he said. "They have some very strong players, very dynamic. They are a real class act - we love playing against them."
Wallabies flanker David Pocock says claims - mainly from South Africa - that he repeatedly 'cheated' at the breakdown were just standard accusations facing the game's top open-side 'pilferers'. Pocock's display in making 26 tackles and helping steal nine turnovers in Australia's quarter-final win over the Springboks was acclaimed by coach Robbie Deans as the best individual display of the World Cup. "It's fairly standard in a game these days that number sevens cop a bit of heat from the opposition and that's for Richie McCaw as well. I think it's fairly standard (cheating claims) for most number sevens and it's been pretty funny this week on Twitter and seeing what the fans are saying, it's been in good humour."
The South African Rugby Union says it will review coach Peter de Villiers' performance in the World Cup and will decide who will take charge of the Springboks next season by the end of the year.