Knee infection delays Larkham's recovery

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The Independent Online

The Australia playmaker Stephen Larkham has picked up an infection in his injured knee which should rule him out until the World Cup semi-finals and a possible last eight meeting with England, should they beat Tonga on Friday.

The 102-Test veteran aggravated a problem in his right knee on the eve of Australia's win over Wales in Cardiff on 15 September. He missed that match and had surgery in France the following day to remove floating fragments behind the kneecap.

Larkham's recovery appeared to be ahead of schedule and he was hoping to return against Canada on Saturday. But the area became infected and he needed more treatment overnight on Monday.

"Stephen Larkham spent the night in hospital. His knee's flared up with a small infection," the national coach John Connolly said yesterday. "We hope to get him out [of the hospital] tomorrow. He definitely won't be considered for this week or the week after."

The South Africa centre Francois Steyn has been cleared of biting Tonga winger Joseph Vaka on the hand and is free to play in the Springboks' final Group A game against the United States on Sunday.

Tonga made the allegation after South Africa's 30-25 victory in Lens on Saturday. The players tangled after a tackle ahead of Bobby Skinstad's try for the Springboks in the 62nd minute.