Players’ thoughts ahead of this weekend’s Rugby World Cup semifinals

2011-10-13 07:22

Adnaan Mohamed in Auckland

French scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili is confident that France can dispose of Wales in Saturday’s semifinal of the Rugby World Cup in much the same manner as they did England in last weekend’s quarterfinal.

“Last week was not a major accomplishment. We just played at our real level and there is no reason why we can’t have the same performance this week,” Yachvili said here at the team hotel yesterday.

His teammate Vincent Clerc is hoping Yachvili is correct in his assumption after the wing suffered semifinal disappointment against England at the Rugby World Cup in 2007.

“We have experienced being eliminated in the semifinal before and this is something we don’t want to happen again,” said Clerq.

French prop Nicolas Mas says he and his fellow forwards will keep it simple come Saturday at Eden Park. “Our job is not to think too much, just to be efficient and give good balls to our backs,” he said.

Wales flanker Ryan Jones, however, says they have a plan for getting past France and hope to go on to ultimate glory in the final.

“It is not a question of stepping it up. It is doing more of the same. There was a lot of good in the game last week (a quarterfinal win over Ireland), through one to 15, and this, along with individual performances, is what it takes to win the World Cup,” he said.

Australia captain James Horwill says he really does not care where Sunday’s semifinal with New Zealand is held, as long as the Wallabies emerge victorious from the Eden Park clash.

“It’s a ground that’s hosting the semifinal of a World Cup. It’s going to be a big game, no matter where it was going to be held. It could be held in the park just down the road here, it’s still going to be a massive game. That’s the way we’re treating it,” the Wallaby Captain said yesterday.

Wallabies’ New Zealand-born fly half Quade Cooper believes the All Blacks have greater issues to focus on than him possibly scoring the winning points at the weekend.

“That would be a bit of a tough one for them to swallow, but I’m sure that they’ve got a lot more things to worry about than myself. They’re supposed to have won the World Cup for the past three tournaments and this is no different.

“A lot of pressure is on them to win this competition on their home soil, so I’m sure they’ll be worrying about how they go about their game, more so than myself,” said Cooper.

All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino believes that focusing too much attention on Cooper could be a major tactical error.

“We don’t want to single out any of their players. They’ve got threats all over the park. If we try to single out one of them then all the other dangers in their team come back to bite us,” he warned.

Wallaby wing James O’Connor says he likes to clear his mind of any negative thoughts before striding forward to take his kicks for Australia.

He said: “You’ve just got to take it as any other kick. If you focus on the outcome too much, that’s when all the pressure comes. If you’re in the moment and just worrying about yourself and that kick, hopefully you get the outcome you want.”

Aussie flanker Rocky Elsom suspects the All Blacks are feeling the increasing pressure and tension more than them ahead on Sunday’s semifinal.

“The situation is not only are they expected to win this match, but then the next one, as well. There is a hell of a lot of expectation. Just what that does to them, I’m not sure, but you definitely know it’s there,” he said.

Elsom’s teammate David Pocock says he is prepared to be the recipient of some big hits from the New Zealand forwards at the weekend.
“It is fairly standard these days for open side flankers to cop a bit of heat from the opposition.”

Abrasive New Zealand second row forward Brad Thorn says has played down the rivalry between the All Blacks and the Wallabies and says it’s just all part of the hype around the big semifinal clash. “It’s cheeky, it’s fun and both countries love getting the wood over each other,” he said.

All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams says he is not overly concerned by the intense media scrutiny he has been subject to recently.

“I’m just doing what I usually do, not reading the media and just doing all the little things right, ticking all the boxes during the week,” he said.

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