Jonathan Davies: New Zealand's game is hanging on McCaw
Saturday 15 October 2011
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.
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Ghosts of past cast a massive shadow
Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao? Ricky Hatton, Mike Tyson, Ronda Rousey, George Foreman and more make their predictions
Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao start?
Kyle Walker dog video: Tottenham defender categorically denies 'disgusting' rumours
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 The Visit: Trailer for M Night Shyamalan's latest horror film is terrifying
- 5 9/11: Iranian General accuses US of organising September 11 terror attacks
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'