According to reports the USA will be without one of their key players in September because he has signed a contract with an English club that prevents him from going to the World Cup. Such a contract surely contravenes IRB regulations and so we ask – what is the governing body going to do about it?
Eddie O’Sullivan, the coach of USA, has revealed that lock Samu Manoa has been excluded from World Cup participation under the terms of his contract with Northampton. O’Sullivan said: “Unfortunately a clause in his contract prevents him from travelling to RWC.
Samoa described his deal with Northampton as “a blessing” but I’m sure that all those American coaches who have helped develop the big man’s game will not feel quite so spiritual about it.
Ireland’s Stephen Ferris announced that he will return to rugby after recovering from the third knee operation of his career. But Ferris, who went on the last Lions tour to South Africa, will have a job getting back into Ireland’s starting line-up.
He said: “Sean O’Brien has come in and taken his chance at number six and is probably the best in his position in Europe at the moment.” It’s a decent shout, but Ferris has proved his ability to play seven and, provided he is back up to full speed, could also challenge David Wallace for a place in Ireland’s first choice starting line-up.
South Africa vs. Australia
Peter De Villiers, South Africa’s coach, came out with another odd remark after his team’s loss to Australia. The philosophical one said: “I felt sorry for John (Smit). To be the captain is one thing but to have some leaders around you to calm down the news guys was non existent.”
One would have thought the coach should take the rap for that shortcoming and there are a few queuing up to have a go. South Africa’s World Cup winning coach from four years ago Jake White said that De Villiers had made a mistake resting so many players and had lost all momentum going into the World Cup.
White rested players four years ago, but he pointed out that they were for two matches at the end of the Tri-Nations and that the Boks also had three warm-up friendlies in 2007.
Australia and Robbie Deans’s verdict on their weekend was: “Crucially we got our shoulders down.” Even at this level technique is still a constant issue.
All Blacks vs. Fiji
The All Blacks found out a few things from Friday night’s warm-up against Fiji. They discovered – actually they knew this one already – that Piri Weepu is their World Cup starting half-back. They confirmed Colin Slade as Dan Carter’s back-up.
And while the NZ hierarchy wonders if Liam Messam has what it takes to make the final cut, IRB boss Mike Miller wonders why the hell NZ hotel prices are so expensive in September. Some are charging ten times the usual rates and the IRB views such gouging as unacceptable. Given some of the ticket prices, the words pot and kettle spring to mind.
No wonder so many fans are still reluctant to make the trip.