Jonathan Davies: New Zealand's game is hanging on McCaw

They remain the favourites, but I honestly feel New Zealand lost their aura against Argentina.

And now with one of their vital players absent and with the other crucial performer struggling with injury they face the Test of their lives against their neighbours.

For so long Richie McCaw has been the flag-bearer for opensides, but I believe injuries have slowly taken the edge off his play. In fact, if you are naming the best No 7s at this tournament so far he would come in behind David Pocock and Sam Warburton.

Granted, McCaw's one of the greatest and could still produce two performances which would define this World Cup as well as his whole career. But that's exactly what the All Blacks might require from their talisman.

Every team suffers injuries, but they seemed rudderless against the Pumas without the stricken Dan Carter. Piri Weepu, the scrum-half, stepped up to the mark and I think Graham Henry should have picked him at fly-half for this semi-final.

Weepu's played for the Highlanders at No 10, he's going to run the show from No 9 anyway, so you may as well have him in the box-seat to get the outside backs running. Furthermore, Sonny Bill Williams is their most potent game-breaker, but he is only among the replacements so we will have to wait to witness his wicked offloads.

So what's the prediction? Well, certainly the Aussies won't be scared in Auckland, no matter how fortunate they were against South Africa. They will prey on New Zealand tension and try to crank up the pressure to unbearable levels.

Here's a premonition: Quade Cooper has been dreadful as the Wallabies No 10 during this World Cup so far. Truly dreadful. But guess what? He's a Kiwi by birth, with a Kiwi mum and a Kiwi dad. What are the chances of him suddenly discovering his form and knocking out his motherland? It may just be written in a big book somewhere.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory