“Our captain is our leader, our soul. He has just that kind of magic it’s not easy to find in a rugby player and we’re very, very happy he’ll be out there with us.”
– Argentina number 8 Juan Fernandez Lobbe believes the return of skipper Felipe Contepomi to the Pumas side to face Scotland on Sunday is a major boost.
“With the backs that the Fijians have, you have to smash them up front. For me, that’s my job. That’s what I need to do.”
– Samoa prop Census Johnston is pumped up and ready to make some big hits on his RWC 2011 debut against fellow Pacific Islanders Fiji on Sunday.
“For any Kiwi rugby player growing up, you always want to, it epitomises the game really, playing on Eden Park. It’s going to be a dream fulfilled. It’s going to be very emotional and extra special for me because of that Kiwi connection.”
– Samoa second row Dan Leo, who grew up in Auckland, cannot wait to stride out on to the Eden Park turf for the first time in this weekend’s Pool D clash.
“I can’t be more confident than this, otherwise I’ll have to put the boots on and run out myself, so this is it.”
– Fiji coach Samu Domoni isn’t quite ready to write off his side, even after they were heavily beaten by South Africa last weekend.
“It’s an amazing country, you see school kids in bare feet running with bamboo sticks for goal posts and running around with what you think is a rugby ball but it’s actually a plastic coke bottle. We’re representing those people, the kids of Fiji. It’s fantastic to be given that opportunity.”
– Deacon Manu, the Fijian skipper, is in no doubt who he is playing for at this World Cup.
“My head’s still young and I wish I could still do everything that I was doing 10 years ago.”
– Fly half Nicky Little might be 35 years old, but he is still prepared to put his body on the line when Fiji face Samoa in Auckland.
“I think it’s incredulous, and frankly scandalous, that he would try and bring one of his fellow countrymen into something that is just totally untrue.”
– Ireland coach Declan Kidney is stunned by the allegations from former Australia player Tim Horan that Irish backs coach Alan Gaffney (AUS) told him they used time-wasting tactics in the victory over the Wallabies last Saturday.
“Absolutely not. If anything, it’s the other way around. We know we’re going to have to be on the money.”
– Kidney also dismisses claims that making 10 changes to the side that defeated Australia for Sunday’s Pool C match against Russia shows he is taking the Bears lightly.
“I suppose if you are going to pick a game and an opposition to play your 100th, it would be a good choice.”
– New Zealand captain Richie McCaw reckons France make the perfect adversaries for his 100th Test cap at Eden Park on Saturday.
“He has been the best No.7 in the world for 10 years. He has twice as many caps as me, I respect him. But I am sad for him because we will spoil his fun tomorrow.”
– France captain Thierry Dusautoir might be a fan of flanker McCaw, but he is still expecting Les Bleus to curtail his contemporary’s celebrations.
“I wasn’t happy with our physicality in defence or our tackle technique. The intensity in the hit, to destroy your opponent in the tackle, wasn’t there and we will fix that this week.”
– Italy defence coach Omar Mouneimne expects his charges to show more passion and power against USA next week than they did in the victory over Russia on Tuesday.
“It will be difficult, but possible.”
– Second row Cornelius van Zyl keeps his answer succinct when considering the need for the Azzurri to score four tries against USA next week to secure a crucial bonus point that will assist them in taking third place in Pool C and automatically qualify for RWC 2015.
“To walk in front of 30 people and say we’re not going out to win this, how do you do that? I’ve never been in a team that’s done that. The moment you do that you’ve lost the tournament.”
– South Africa technical specialist Rassie Erasmus does not believe any coach would ask his players to throw a match following reports that teams are ready to lose in order to finish the pool stage in a ‘better’ side of the draw.
“It was great. You can get cabin fever being in the same place all the time, so it was nice to get out and about.”
– Wales second row Alun Wyn Jones was happy to swap one enclosed space for another with a visit to Waitomo Caves in the southern Waikato region of the North Island.