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New dad Attwood set to return
England will have second-row Dave Attwood back in camp on Thursday after his fiancee successfully gave birth to their first child on Tuesday. An already injury-hit side, without locks Geoff Parling, Joe Launchbury and Ed Slater, were facing the prospect of yet more disruption when Attwood left camp on Tuesday to attend the birth.
Tenth time lucky for Wales?
Wales captain Sam Warburton has urged his side to bring an end to their southern hoodoo when they take on Australia at the Millennium Stadium. Saturday’s game sees the Welsh looking to pick up a first win over the Wallabies since 2008, with Warburton stressing the importance of a victory. “You are not unlucky nine times in a row,” he said.
Australia have obviously been that smidge better than we have been over those nine fixtures. “It’s not a psychological barrier. The first time I came into the squad was on the back of beating them in 2008, so you always have the belief when playing these teams.”
Laidlaw to lead Scotland
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will lead his country into this Saturday’s international against Argentina at Murrayfield, it’s been announced. The 31-times capped Borderer takes on the mantle from 24-year-old lock Grant Gilchrist, who was ruled out of the series after fracturing his forearm in Edinburgh’s Challenge Cup win over Lyon, just four days after being handed the honour.
England name Rokoduguni in 23
Uncapped Semesa Rokoduguni is among 23 players retained by Stuart Lancaster to prepare for Saturday’s Test with New Zealand at Twickenham.
The Fijian-born tank soldier is one of four Bath backs included after sparkling Aviva Premiership form, with Anthony Watson also being included in a Test match day squad for the first time alongside team-mates Kyle Eastmond and George Ford.
South African Rugby
O’Connell is fantastic – Matfield
South Africa lock Victor Matfield has praised Ireland veteran Paul O’Connell ahead of their mouth-watering battle at the Aviva Stadium this weekend. The experienced duo will collide in Dublin and before kick-off, the 37-year-old South African has paid tribute to the Munster and Ireland legend. “I think Paul O’Connell is a fantastic player, I have said it before, I think he is probably the best player I have played against in my career,” he said.
New Zeeland Rugby
McCaw unsure about retirement date
Although he knows his retirement is drawing closer All Blacks captain Richie McCaw won’t say when he will finally call it a day.The 33-year-old has already played played 134 Tests for his country but was rested when the All Blacks faced the USA in their end-of-year tour opener in Chicago at the weekend.
McCaw, who made his Test debut against Ireland in 2001, played down talk of retirement when he was asked about his playing future and would not say whether it will happen after the 2015 World Cup in England. “To say I’m going to give it up or carry on playing, I just don’t know,” McCaw told The Guardian ahead of the clash with the USA.
Smith ‘ready to rock and roll’
Ben Smith is back at peak condition ahead of New Zealand’s match with England this weekend at Twickenham after a break. The Rugby Championship record try scorer missed the Bledisloe Cup win over Australia and the trip to Chicago to play the USA due to a bug.
Smith’s performances of late for the All Blacks haven’t quite hit the peak he set last year or earlier in 2014 with the Highlanders in Super Rugby. The 28-year-old though is now in line to return for New Zealand in London, where assistant coach Ian Foster hopes he will add to his record of 16 tries in 35 Tests. “It has been a great break for him … He is ready to rock and roll,” Foster told Stuff.
NZ up security to prevent 2013 repeat
The All Blacks will step up security at their London hotel in a bid to prevent what happened in 2013 when a journalist entered their team room. The world champions arrived at the same Kensington hotel where a reporter, Oliver Brown, of the Daily Telegraph wrote of what he saw on a white board in the All Blacks’ empty team room.
The motivational message which Brown saw said: “We are the most dominant team in the history of the world” something which he described it as a “chilling mantra”.
Sources: Planet Rugby