BOTHA BLOW FOR BOKS
SOUTH AFRICA’S vastly experienced lock Bakkies Botha has been ruled out of Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final against Australia after suffering a recurrence of an Achilles injury. There is also no place in the Springboks 22 for talismanic prop Tendai Mtawarira in a side that will be captained by hooker John Smit. Wings Bryan Habana and J P Pietersen have both allayed any fears about their fitness by both being named in the starting line-up.
SONNY PLANS TO ATTACK
NEW ZEALAND star Sonny Bill Williams insists the All Blacks won’t be abandoning their attacking principles in pursuit of World Cup glory. New Zealand’s last eight opponents Argentina will look to stifle the host nation on Sunday, as they did so successfully against England. But even without the influential presence of fly-half Dan Carter, Williams is confident the All Blacks can stick to their principles. “Hopefully we can still express ourselves out there and play with the freedom that we have been playing with,” he said. “We have to acknowledge that this is knockout football, that there’s no tomorrow. You’ve just got to find the right balance.”
JONES TRUSTS WELSH KIDS
STEPHEN JONES is backing Wales’ youngsters to launch the side into the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1987. Wales coach Warren Gatland’s matchday squad to face Ireland on Saturday is set to contain a clutch of players aged 23 and under. And fly-half Jones, the most capped player in Welsh rugby history with 102 Test match appearances, believes their impact cannot be understated. “Team morale is fantastic,” Jones said. “The younger players have a high rugby ability, and they've gone out there and enjoyed throwing the ball around. They have been top-drawer. They are fearless. They back themselves, and the fact so many good youngsters have come through, put their hand up and raised the bar has really had a good knock-on effect.”