Rugby Union: Macqueen is facing delay

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The Independent Online
THE AUSTRALIA coach, Rod Macqueen, may be forced to name his side to face New Zealand only hours before the game on Saturday morning because of the physical battering the Wallabies received against South Africa last weekend.

The centre Daniel Herbert, who sustained a hamstring injury, the wing Ben Tune, who has a damaged calf muscle, and the prop Andrew Blades, who has a sore Achilles tendon, did not train yesterday as they sought to overcome injuries from the 29-15 defeat in Johannesburg.

The win gave the Springboks victory in the Tri-Nations series but Macqueen is confident his side can pull off the first clean sweep against the All Blacks for almost 70 years.

"The All Blacks are always very physical. We've certainly got to take a step up in that area," said Macqueen, who admitted he could be forced to delay his team for the final Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney. "It's going to go down to the wire. We'd like to name the team on Friday, but there is a chance it could be Saturday."

Australia last beat New Zealand 3-0 in a series in 1929 in Australia, but have not taken a clean sweep since the Bledisloe Cup was introduced in 1931.

New Zealand selectors have named two new caps for the match at the Sydney Football Stadium. The prop Kees Meeuws and the No 8 Xavier Rush were selected to make their Test debuts against the Wallabies after Olo Brown and Isitolo Maka were injured in the All Blacks' 24-23 loss to South Africa on 15 August.

NEW ZEALAND (v Australia, Bledisloe Cup, Saturday, Sydney): C Cullen; J Wilson, E Clarke, M Mayerhofler, J Lomu; A Mehrtens, J Marshall; C Hoeft, A Oliver, K Meeuws, R Willis, R Brooke, T Randell (capt), J Kronfeld, X Rush.

Jim Telfer, the Scotland coach, yesterday confirmed he will stand down as after next year's World Cup. Telfer reluctantly returned to the post last November after a humiliating 68-10 loss to South Africa at Murrayfield ended the reign of Richie Dixon. However, he intends to continue in his role as director of rugby for the Scottish Rugby Union into the next millennium and will play a prominent role in choosing his successor.