Pointy footballs

Canada prop Jason Marshall has a ready conversation starter if he comes up against All Blacks counterpart Owen Franks on Sunday afternoon - American football.

But while Franks is merely a fan of the sport, Marshall, 26, played it at university level and in the somewhat unexpected position of quarterback.

Marshall played rugby at flanker at high school and when he failed to secure a professional contract as a quarterback after graduating from university he drifted back to the sport and made the Canada team as a loose forward in 2008.

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It was then that Canada coach and former All Black Kieran Crowley convinced him to make the switch to the dark depths of the front row.

"I hated it," Marshall said of the switch. "It took me a good year to embrace it. I had a lot of negative thoughts about it because I was not good at it at all. I was getting my ass handed to me by little kids. But I put the time in and listened a lot to the coaches and experts and they gave me pointers here and there."

Thing to bind them all

Another Lord of the Rings-themed intro from the South African press pack: "The Springboks left the middle earth of the north island of New Zealand ..."

Seriously guys, has the first movie just come out over there or something?

Suicide seat

Frans Steyn was asked how he felt about switching to the "suicide seat" at second five-eighths against tough-tackling Samoa tonight: "Just wish me good luck and pray for me."

West Papua's moment

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CupShorts took CupShorts jnr to Pt Chevalier playground where we bumped into an off-duty Green Party MP. "Why is the media so obsessed with the World Cup?" she asked. "Big issues are being missed. We just had a delegation here from West Papua and there was no press coverage on them at all."

A fair point. And one that we're only too happy to remedy. So, for the record, West Papua is currently part of Indonesia (no IRB ranking). However, if they got independence they might someday hope to rival neighbouring Papua New Guinea (rated 46th in the IRB rankings). Good luck to them.

Horse voice

Word has reached us of the shameful behaviour of a former All Black. The player did the honours at one of the thousands of exhibitions cashing in on the World Cup, boasting to a shocked audience that he was also known as "Horse".

As guests shuffled their feet or gazed anywhere but in the direction of our stallion, he brayed that he was available should any of the female guests want to confirm his claims.

Tweeting twit I

More on the shameful behaviour front. A British pundit thought it would be a good idea to send a saucy text message to his missus, thanking her for a flash of her chest assets on Skype. Unfortunately, he also thought it would be a good idea to do so from his smart phone after a couple of pints.

Result: A thanks-for-showing-me-your-baps message that went out to the pundit's substantial legion of Twitter followers.

Tweeting twit II

Anyone looking for a dull inter-hemispherical tweeting wars might want to drop Will Carling a line (@willcarling).

"There is no such colour as Black. So should it really be the 'All Really Dark Browns'?" he tweets, his heavily dimpled chin no doubt wobbling with a chubby chuckle. "Not quite the same ring to it ..."

Tweeting twit III

f you do fancy an inter-hemispherical tweeting war with Will Carling then please do us a favour and ask him three questions:

1.) What was your winning ratio in test matches against the All Really Dark Browns?

2.) What does the back end of Jonah Lomu look like from the ground in a World Cup semifinal?

3.) Can you fit your index finger into your dimple?

Tweeting twit IV

James O'Connor, on Radike Samo playing as a winger: "Do they make XXL jerseys for wingers?"

A very big Shark

The Springbok assistant coach Dick Muir says he remembers Alesana Tuilagi from the giant Samoan winger's brief run with South Africa's Sharks a few years back.

"He joined us on loan from Leicester and he played in a warm-up game but had to use an over-sized supporters' jersey. He was too big for our jerseys!"

Muir's best tip for stopping the big man in tonight's match:

"A sniper on the roof would be good."