The following is a roundup of stories from the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
All Blacks Re-jig
New Zealand picked Sonny Bill Williams on the wing among six changes for its Oct. 9 quarterfinal against Argentina.
Williams switches from inside center to accommodate Ma’a Nonu’s return, with wingers Israel Dagg, Zac Guildford and Richard Kahui unavailable because of injuries. Cory Jane was chosen on the other wing and Mils Muliaina named at full-back for his 100th Test.
Piri Weepu replaces Jimmy Cowan at scrum-half, while Keven Mealamu, Brad Thorn and captain Richie McCaw come in for Andrew Hore, Ali Williams and Victor Vito, who drop to the replacements’ bench.
With a combined record 769 appearances, the lineup for the match at Auckland’s Eden Park is New Zealand’s most-experienced team in Test rugby, tournament organizers said.
“This is sudden death, finals rugby,” All Blacks coach Graham Henry said. “We have the utmost respect for Argentina. They showed in their pool matches, especially against England and Scotland, just how physical their game is.”
NEW ZEALAND: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams, Colin Slade, Piri Weepu, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Victor Vito, Jimmy Cowan, Aaron Cruden, Isaia Toeava.
Injured Trio Return
Full-back Kurtley Beale, winger Digby Ioane and inside center Pat McCabe came off the injured list to return for Australia’s quarterfinal against South Africa in two days.
The Wallabies’ lineup for the match in Wellington features 14 of the 15 players who began the World Cup with a 32-6 win over Italy. Center Anthony Fainga’a, who started against the Italians, was named on the replacements’ bench after recovering from a concussion.
“Fortunately, a lot of the injury problems that we’ve had are now behind us,” Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said in a statement. “The players that are coming back into the team after breaks are good to go.”
Radike Samo, who played on the wing in the last match against Russia, moved back to No. 8 in one of five changes to the forward pack. Flanker Rocky Elsom, lock Dan Vickerman, and props Ben Alexander and Sekope Kepu were recalled.
Pumas Change Four
Argentina made four changes to face the All Blacks in two days, recalling Rodrigo Roncero, Manuel Carizza, Gonzalo Camacho and Martin Rodriguez in place of Marcos Ayerza, Mariano Galarza, Juan Jose Imhoff and Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.
With the exception of No. 8 Leonardo Senatore, it’s the same team which started the 13-12 win over Scotland on Sept. 25. The only absentee is Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, who suffered a tournament-ending knee injury in that match.
Pumas captain Felipe Contepomi enters the game needing to score five points to overtake Hugo Porta’s national-record total of 590 career points in international rugby.
ARGENTINA: Martin Rodriguez, Gonzalo Camacho, Marcelo Bosch, Felipe Contepomi (captain), Horacio Agulla, Santiago Fernandez, Nicolas Vergallo, Leonardo Senatore, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Julio Farias Cabello, Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza, Juan Figallo, Mario Ledesma, Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: Agustin Creevy, Martin Scelzo, Marcos Ayerza, Alejandro Campos, Alfredo Lalanne, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, Juan Jose Imhoff.