Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

New Zealand captain McCaw fit for Rugby World Cup semifinal

updated 5:47 PM EDT, Fri October 14, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Richie McCaw is declared fit for New Zealand's Rugby World Cup semifinal
  • All Blacks captain has been struggling with a foot injury throughout the tournament
  • Wales make one change to their team ahead of last-four tie against France
  • France coach Marc Lievremont names an unchanged team for Saturday's match

(CNN) -- New Zealand captain and key forward Richie McCaw has been passed fit for Sunday's Rugby World Cup semifinal clash with neighbors Australia in Auckland.

Reports had suggested the flanker could miss the host nation's eagerly-awaited showdown with the two-time world champion Wallabies due to a foot injury, after the 30-year-old played a limited role in this week's training sessions.

But McCaw has been named in Graham Henry's starting XV as the All Blacks aim to reach their first final at the four-yearly tournament since winning the inaugural event on home soil 24 years ago.

Aaron Cruden comes in at flyhalf for only his eighth Test appearance after Dan Carter's deputy Colin Slade aggravated a groin injury during the quarterfinal win over Argentina last weekend.

Excitement builds around rugby semis

Piri Weepu retains his place at scrumhalf after kicking 21 points in New Zealand's 33-10 victory over the Pumas.

Dallaglio picks semifinal favorites

But despite his match-winning display in Auckland, Weepu's joy at reaching the semifinals was countered by learning his paternal grandfather had passed away.

New Zealand has Rugby World Cup fever

"It was pretty tough at the beginning," the 28-year-old told reporters. "Especially coming off the field on Sunday, seeing my father trying to get a hold of me. He pretty much broke the news.

"It was pretty tough but I'm back in camp now and I've got the support I need from the boys to help me get through this week and hopefully put in a good effort."

Australia beat New Zealand 25-20 when the two sides met in the Tri-Nations in August, and the Wallabies have won their last two World Cup contests -- in the semifinals in 1991 and 2003.

Kurtley Beale has been selected at fullback for the Wallabies in the hope the 22-year-old will recover from a hamstring injury.

If Beale fails to make Sunday's encounter, Adam Ashley-Cooper will fill in and be replaced at outside center by 24-year-old Anthony Faingaa.

Australia, coached by former All Blacks fullback Robbie Deans, will have to become the first team to beat New Zealand at Eden Park in 17 years to reach a fourth World Cup final.

Wales have reached the last four for the first time since 1987, and coach Warren Gatland has made one change to the team which recorded a 22-10 win over Ireland in the quarterfinals ahead of Saturday's semi with France.

James Hook replaces the injured Rhys Priestland at flyhalf for what will be his 58th international cap as Wales look to reach their first World Cup final.

France, beaten by New Zealand in the 1987 final, will be unchanged following the 19-12 win over England.

Coach Marc Lievremont's Les Blues will attempt to repeat their 28-9 defeat of Wales in this year's Six Nations.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:46 AM EDT, Sun October 16, 2011
French players celebrate while it's only despair for Wales after their World Cup semifinal
France beat heroic 14-man Wales 9-8 in Auckland Saturday to reach the final of the Rugby World Cup.
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Wed October 12, 2011
Former Rugby World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio weighs in on this weekend's chances for the semifinalists.
updated 3:47 PM EDT, Fri October 7, 2011
Despite traditional divisions, Ireland's rugby team is receiving unanimous support. CNN's Pedro Pinto reports.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Fri September 30, 2011
In 1995, South Africa seemed united beyond expectation, having rallied around an unlikely ambassador for racial change in a fractured country.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Mon September 26, 2011
Travel past the Viaduct Basin, the Sky Tower and One Tree Hill on the way to the RWC final venue, Eden Park.
updated 12:50 PM EDT, Fri September 23, 2011
The 2011 Rugby World Cup is in full swing, and the four-yearly tournament has attracted fans from all over the world to the stadiums of New Zealand.
With the 2011 World Cup under way, CNN's Alex Thomas selects the greatest XV in the tournament's history.
updated 11:06 PM EDT, Thu September 8, 2011
CNN invites you to take part in their Rugby World Cup crossbar challenge as demonstrated by the London Irish rugby team.
ADVERTISEMENT