Reason’s Round-Up Posted over 12 years ago

Shame Williams Believes

Shane Williams, the Wales wing, believes that his country can win the World Cup. Williams said: “Physically we are looking good – I just hope mentally we are right as well. We need to get the confidence now to have the self-belief that we are a great side and a team capable of winning the World Cup.

“I personally believe that and I hope the other guys feel the same. There would be no point going to the World Cup if we didn’t believe we were going to win it.”

Wales have never beaten New Zealand in New Zealand and they have only beaten South Africa once in their history. They are in ‘the pool of death’ with South Africa, Fiji, Samoa and Namibia. Samoa and Fiji have both previously beaten Wales in World Cup pool matches. But you might as well look on the bright side of life.

Biff, Boff and Bash

At least if Wales win they are likely to do so in style. A look at England’s likely first choice centres – Shontayne Hape, Mike Tindall, Matt Banahan and Manu Tuilagi – makes you wonder about the future of rugby in Albion. England look to have three tactics in midfield – biff, boff and bash.
Maybe it was no surprise then that two England players were recently stretchered off in a trial game. Courtney Lawes was treated for ten minutes and left with an oxygen mask clamped to his face. But an x-ray revealed no permanent damage. Tindall is also thought to have made a full recovery after his boisterous wedding to Zara Phillips.

Injury Toll

Injuries remain the greatest fear of all coaches in the lead-up to the World Cup. Ireland’s coach Declan Kidney is still worried about Gordon D’Arcy, who was injured in the Heineken Cup final. Kidney said: “Unfortunately Gordon’s ankle didn’t solve itself and he needed an operation and it will take a good six weeks to be running fully. It’s getting tight.” Hugo Southwell has already had to pull out of Scotland’s squad due to a knee injury and a trio of Aussies are looking borderline on making it back in time

South Africa B vs. New Zealand B ??

How strange that so many in the Southern Hemisphere are jumping up and down about the South African ‘B’ team currently being trounced in the Tri-Nations. Some have called it an insult to the competition. And yet New Zealand only played three of their first choice pack in the 40-7 defeat of South Africa at the weekend. So how many players does a coach rest before it becomes a scandal? Five, ten, fifteen? I have no idea – but congratulations to Dan Carter on re-taking the world points scoring record during a performance that will make the rest of the World Cup contenders put their defence coaches on overtime. New Zealand v Australia this weekend, Carter v Quade Cooper, McCaw v Pocock – it should be a fizzer.

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Mark Reason has been a sports journalist for over 25 years. He currently works for Fairfax Media and will also be part of the Telegraph's World Cup team and a regular panellist on Radio New Zealand during the World Cup. He has covered every Rugby World Cup since 1991, the 2000 and 2008 Olympics, over 40 golf major championships, the FA Cup final, the Epsom Derby and a lot of other stuff he can't remember. Mark emigrated to New Zealand in 2010 having spent over 20 years covering sport for the Telegraph and Sunday Times in Britain.

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