An open and shut case for Rowell

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The Independent Online
Jack Rowell yesterday deferred his England team selection for Sunday's World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in Cape Town until today, for no particular reason other than that he had decided not to think too hard about it until his squad had returned here from Sun City.

Not that there is likely to be any great drama about the manager's choice, not after the quarter-final victory over Australia which illuminated an otherwise dark sporting weekend for England. Rowell last night went as far as he decently dare towards saying it would be an unchanged team. "It could well be the same side again," he let slip.

Yesterday England attempted to have a private training session at Wanderers club in northern Johannesburg, only to find an unwanted audience. Today when they return to purdah it will be at Wits Technical College, where security will be stricter.

"I've no idea who they were but people were driving up and making notes when all we want, like Marlene Dietrich, is to be on our own for a while," he said. Er, shouldn't that be Greta Garbo, Jack? "Just testing."

In fact Rowell could hardly complain, even if the intruders were New Zealanders. The England management have had no compunction about sending Austin Swain, their sports psychologist, to gatecrash even the private sessions of opponents.

Will Carling, the England captain, took no part in yesterday's practice because of an upset stomach, but otherwise Rowell reported a clean bill of health, even though Jason Leonard needed a calf to be strapped and Jeremy Guscott put ice on a sore hip.

Rowell does not believe England are capable of more than they gave against the Wallabies. "The physical and mental effort was extremely high and I don't see how we can build on it," he said. "But if we play the same and get a bit more productivity out of one or two areas that will stand us in good stead."

The All Blacks' team will also be announced today, with Glen Osborne fit to resume at full-back after recovering from the ankle injury that kept him out of the semi-final defeat of Scotland. Jeff Wilson will move back to right wing, with the only doubts concerning loose-head prop (Richard Loe or Craig Dowd), and blind-side flanker (Mike Brewer or Jamie Joseph).

All gold Mehrtens, page 26