Rugby World Cup: Team briefing

By NZ Herald staff

Samoa's injury count
Samoa were yesterday sweating on the availability of injured players Tusi Pisi, Taiasina Tuifu'a and less so on Sailosi Tagicakibau for the match against Fiji. Goalkicking first five-eighths Pisi (hamstring) and flanker Tuifu'a (ribs) were hurt in their opener against Namibia a week ago and were named in the 22 to play Wales but were withdrawn before the game. Right winger Tagicakibau also left the Wales match with a tight hamstring. Coach Titimaea Tafua said yesterday that he expected Pisi and Tagicakibau to be 100 per cent by this Sunday, when Samoa face Fiji at a sold-out Eden Park, but Tuifu'a was still in doubt.

Samoa v Fiji:
Eden Park, 3.30pm, Sunday

O'Gara's plansIreland first five-eighths Ronan O'Gara has moved to end speculation that he will retire after the Rugby World Cup, saying his comments might have been misinterpreted and they are now proving to be a distraction to the team before the clash with Russia. After Ireland's 15-6 upset win over Australia in Pool C, O'Gara said he'd be "done with Ireland" after the World Cup. Yesterday, he said "there's different interpretations to that," and "it's important for me to put an end to that [speculation] because it's a distraction the team doesn't need". The 34-year-old, San Diego-born O'Gara said he would reassess his future at the end of the tournament.

Ireland v Russia:
Rotorua, 6pm, Sunday

Queensland captains
Australian-born halfback Tim Usasz will captain the United States for the first time in its Pool C match against Australia tomorrow. Usasz, who was born in Brisbane, will oppose Wallabies halfback Will Genia who has been named captain of Australia for the first time. US coach Eddie O'Sullivan has made 14 changes to the lineup which beat Russia 13-6 for a match which has taken on new significance with Australia's 15-6 loss to Ireland last Saturday. The 14 changes are the most made by the United States between cup matches, beating the previous figure of nine, and are the most made by any team at the tournament so far.

USA v Australia:
Wellington, 8.30pm,
tomorrow

Tonita's switch to No 8
Romanian flanker Ovidiu Tonita said he would have to change his play for his move to No 8 for the match against England on Saturday. "There will be quite a few changes for the match and I expect to play No 8. I will help the backs and get more involved in organising the game, especially after the kicks from the fly half. I will help more with the second line and with tackling. Tonita said No 8 was not his specialty. "I come in when a fix is required and when there is a need. I am ready and prepared and I play No 8 from time to time."

Romania v England:
Dunedin, 6pm, Saturday

Wales on the mend
Wales forwards coach Robyn McBride yesterday said his side's injured players were recovering well before their match against Namibia on Monday. "You saw Ryan [Jones] being put through his paces on the other side of the field. We don't think he's too far away. Same with Dan [Lydiate] and Hooky [James Hook]." McBride said the back row would not be exposed by the injuries. "We don't think we're down to the bare bones yet, but we're watching things at home," he said. "We are taking stock but not rushing into any premature decision. We've got to be realistic. If we pick up any injuries on Monday, we might have to reassess."

Wales v Namibia:
New Plymouth, 7.30pm,
Monday

- NZ Herald

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