“It’s the first occasion we’ve played them in a semi-final of the World Cup at Eden Park, so there’s no history.”
– Australia coach Robbie Deans dismisses any notion the Wallabies’ record of no wins in 25 years against New Zealand at the Auckland stadium will have a bearing on next Sunday’s match.
“We don’t really look at it like a hoodoo. It’s a World Cup semi-final against the All Blacks at Eden Park, so it’s a one-off fixture and no better time (to win).”
– Wallabies assistant coach David Nucifora backs up Deans’ assessment by dismissing all talk of an Eden Park jinx.
“We’re confident he’ll bounce back, he’s a resilient character. Clearly, he wouldn’t have been happy with his performance, but everyone made mistakes. Some of our best made mistakes, but collectively they worked their way through it.”
– Deans has no doubt that fly half Quade Cooper will be back to his best for the All Blacks match after a disappointing display in the two-point quarter-final victory over South Africa.
“He was whitebaiting when I talked to him today. He’s been running up and down the side of a river. One of the criteria of selection was two pound of whitebait. So there’s always some benefits.”
– New Zealand coach Graham Henry implies that Stephen Donald might have been angling for his call-up to the All Blacks squad to replace injured fly half Colin Slade.
“Just keeping Aaron Cruden off his skateboard has been the major thing. Last week he was skateboarding around Palmerston North, having a couple of beers and watching us play. Now he’s the number one 10 in the country.”
– Henry admits it has been tough trying to ensure Cruden stays off his wheels after bringing the youngster into his squad.
“He told me it was a longboard injury. My knowledge of boards is not great. He came off his skateboard.”
– But it is possible the Kiwi coach is having more than a little trouble identifying which type of board the fly half came off when hurting his right knee.
“I thought he meant surfboard, actually, when he said longboard. He’s got a graze.”
– All Blacks team doctor Deb Robinson just muddies the waters regarding the 22-year-old’s heavily strapped knee, although she does clear up any worries over his fitness for the semi-final against the Wallabies.
“It could be a strength as well. The way they are playing they do not have a lot of fear at this moment in time.”
– Wales skills coach Neil Jenkins dismisses talk of the youthful composition of the Wales side being a potential weakness.
“We want to go out there and turn it on again and not worry too much about the occasion. It is good to be in the semi-finals, but we want to reach the final. We need to focus and give our best at the weekend.”
– Wales scrum half Mike Phillips gives an insight into the positive mood and level of ambition within the Wales squad.