MAR DEL PLATA - New Zealand sevens rugby speedster Karl Te Nana will have the big job of filling Eric Rush's boots on World Cup finals day today after a broken leg ended the inspirational captain's tournament in Argentina yesterday.

Rush, playing his last World Cup tournament, broke his right tibia during New Zealand's final pool game, against England in Mar del Plata.

New Zealand were trailing 0-7 at the time, but went on to win their fifth consecutive game of the tournament 17-7. Earlier in the day, they cruised home 33-0 over Chile.

That booked them a quarter-final against Samoa today and, if they win that, a semifinal against either South Africa or Argentina.

Rush, aged 35, was carried off the ground in obvious pain after colliding with an English player. He was sent straight to hospital and returned to the team's hotel late last night with the leg in plaster.

Coach Gordon Tietjens confirmed that Te Nana would take over the captaincy today, and said the team were fired up to compensate for Rush's absence.

"I really feel sorry for Rushy. It's a big tournament for him, his last World Cup, and all of a sudden he's in plaster," Tietjens said.

"He's certainly an inspired leader. He commands huge respect among the players and they're going to have to dig deep and take some ownership now.

"They're really disappointed for Rushy, but they know there's a job to do and they'll be working hard to do it for him."

The win over England was achieved in difficult, wet conditions. New Zealand were trailing 0-7 at halftime, but added three second-half tries from Te Nana, Jonah Lomu and Rodney So'oialo.

It gave New Zealand 175 points from their five pool games. They beat Spain, Japan and Zimbabwe on Saturday, and have conceded only two tries, to Spain and England.

Tietjens insisted the title bid was still on track, despite a shaky effort against England and the loss of Rush.

"England played very well. The conditions were wet and that's very much a leveller in sevens.

"With a big pack it suited them, but we scored three good tries in the second half.

"There wasn't any panic, but we never played with the composure we should have in the first half."

New Zealand's major rivals, Fiji, also cruised unbeaten into the quarter-finals where they will face Canada.

They had a comfortable second day, beating Kenya 52-7 and Korea 33-7.

In the other quarter-finals, Australia meet England and South Africa play Argentina.

Fiji aside, Tietjens continued to be impressed with the Australian team who beat Portugal 38-0 then Samoa 34-12. "Australia are playing very well. They're the big improvers."

- NZPA