THE BREAKDOWN | WORLD CUP BRIEFS

LANDMARK FOR PAterson
Mike Blair will start at scrum-half for Scotland in their World Cup opener against Romania tomorrow. Blair will partner fly-half Ruaridh Jackson, while Joe Ansbro and Sean Lamont make up the centre pairing. Full-back Chris Paterson becomes the first Scot to play at four World Cups, while hooker Ross Ford will win his 50th cap in Invercargill.

HEALY BLOW FOR IRELAND
Ireland prop Cian Healy has been ruled out of Sunday’s World Cup opener against the USA in New Plymouth. The 23-year-old Leinster prop will return to full training this weekend and should be available to face Australia in Auckland on Saturday week.

JAPAN UNVEIL NEW STYLE
Minnows Japan and their Kiwi coach John Kirwan are set to showcase a new style of rugby in their opening World Cup match against France tomorrow. “We’ve chosen a style that suits us and we’re hoping that style you’ll see very quickly,” said Kirwan (right). “We call it ‘Japanese style’. I think if you talk about French rugby, when they play their best you call it ‘champagne rugby’. I’m hoping that tomorrow night after the game you’ll understand what Japanese rugby is.”

BOKS TO BREAK RECORD
South Africa have named the most experienced team in their history for the World Cup clash with Wales in Wellington on Sunday. The Springboks will launch the defence of their title with a side boasting a total of 815 Test caps. Danie Rossouw replaces Bakkies Botha with the veteran lock sidelined with an Achilles heel problem.