“In World Cups it’s a very unique experience. You’re playing in a World Cup quarter-final one week, then the next you could be away at Newcastle. For some people who’ve not played in a World Cup before, that’s not really sunk in yet.”
– England centre Mike Tindall makes few friends in the north-east of England as he tries to explain the fleeting nature of playing on the world stage.
“In this side, you always know if you’re not up to your game there’s usually at least one or two keen to fill your role.”
– All Blacks centre Conrad Smith indicates the insecurity generated by fierce competition for places in the New Zealand team.
“It’s the next game. Of course it is.”
– Asked whether Sunday’s match with Argentina is the most important in four years, Scotland prop Geoff Cross shows he is focusing on one thing at a time.
“I’m not. I’m going to training and I’ll look to put in a good birthday session there.”
– Fellow Scotland front rower Allan Jacobsen displays similar determination when asked how he would be celebrating his birthday on Thursday.
“We have put it to bed. We have played since then, it’s not an issue. We’re looking forward to a big game, we’re playing Romania. I said to you last week what happened: the guys went for a drink. If you’ve got any questions about Romania, we’d like to hear them.”
– England team manager Martin Johnson gives short shrift to questions about his players’ alleged indiscretions.
“I’m going surfing, although I’m a bit concerned because I saw a plaque down at the beach about the last three people who have been taken by sharks. That would put a solid downer on things and make things a bit difficult on the last team run.”
– England flanker Tom Wood plans a dangerous day off in Dunedin after being named on the bench for the match against Romania on Saturday.
“I thought it was a particularly good game of footy. I enjoyed watching the game.”
– Graham Henry can barely conceal his delight over Australia’s suffering at the hands of the Irish.
“I’m sure there were a few claustrophobics in Poland. That will probably come back to haunt them shortly.”
– As his team prepare to visit Waitomo Caves near Hamilton, Wales assistant coach Rob Howley remembers some players’ discomfort in a cryotherapy chamber at their Polish training camp.
“The All Blacks know we are unpredictable, both in a good and a bad way actually. We can either fail or pull it off – and that is what they fear.”
– France flanker Julien Bonnaire sums up the dangerously fickle nature of Les Bleus ahead of Saturday’s clash with New Zealand.
“He’s still in bed. The flu’s knocked him around a bit. I think it’s just a Faingaa thing – our immune system’s not that great.”
– Australia centre Anthony Faingaa, who has just recovered from a bout of ill health, gives a condition check on his twin brother Saia, who will miss the USA match on Friday.