Williams doubtful for Cardiff

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The Independent Online

Williams was released by Wales immediately to allow him to return to his family. "I don't envisage seeing Martyn much this week," Alan Phillips, Wales' team manager, said yesterday. "I spoke to him [on Sunday], and it is safest to presume he is not available. All our thoughts are with him."

Mike Ruddock, the coach, is likely to play Colin Charvis, Newcastle's captain, at open-side, with the choice of blind-side between Jonathan Thomas and Dafydd Jones, who was called into the squad at the weekend.

The choice of replacement for Peel, the Scarlets' No 9, lies between Gareth Cooper and Cardiff's Mike Phillips, but the fly-half Stephen Jones proved his fitness after injury when he played a full part in Clermont Auvergne's victory over the Ospreys in France on Sunday. The Worcester prop Chris Horsman, whose suspension ends this Friday, is likely to be on the bench for his Wales debut.

Meanwhile, the All Blacks are reported to be on a bonus of £40,000 per man if they win the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France.

"Whatever is decided - with those sort of things they need to be clarified a long way out so they don't become an inconvenience like the last time [2003]," Graham Henry, the coach, said, responding to a report in a New Zealand newspaper yesterday.

The All Blacks' build-up to the 2003 World Cup was tainted by a stand-off between the players and the New Zealand Rugby Union over bonuses for that tournament. The report said one of the main points of a new collective agreement between the NZRU and the Players' Association was a £15,000 bonus if the All Blacks made the 2007 World Cup final in Paris, and another £25,000 if they won.

"I've got no problem with that. We all want to win the World Cup no matter what the bonus is - but it's professional sport after all," Henry said. "I think that £40,000 would be a pretty reasonable request."

The 2006 Churchill Cup has been transformed into a secondary Six Nations tournament, after Scotland A, Ireland A and the 2004 winners, New Zealand Maori, were added to the line-up.

The tournament, scheduled for next June, comprises two pools of three teams. Pool A, based in San Francisco, contains the United States, Ireland A and New Zealand Maori. Pool B will play in Toronto and Ottawa, and contains Canada, England A and Scotland A.

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