World Cup briefs: Mortlock blow for Australia

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The Independent Online

Australia's preparations have been hit after their centre Stirling Mortlock was struck down with illness for the second time in a week. Mortlock, who missed training yesterday due to a bout of gastroenteritis, was also bed-ridden last week with a virus, although it is unclear if the two illnesses are related. The 26-year-old missed the entire Test season this year after undergoing a shoulder reconstruction. Meanwhile, the Australia coach Eddie Jones is unhappy his team will not be allowed to warm up on the field before Friday's World Cup opener against Argentina. With the official opening ceremony taking place just before kick-off, World Cup organisers have told both teams they will have to complete their preparations in the dressing rooms. "It's non-negotiable," Jones said. "It's not satisfactory, but if it's the same for both sides, we're prepared to follow it." Jones said he had asked for permission allowing himself and Australia captain George Gregan to inspect the field before the ceremony starts to test conditions and was hoping organisers would grant their request. "If the captain and the coach aren't allowed on the field to look at the conditions then I think it really is getting to the absurd stage," Jones added.

The Canada hooker Pat Dunkley will miss the World Cup after injuring himself in training yesterday. The former national captain, who was almost killed by the flesh-eating infection necrotising fasciitis, suffered rib cartilage damage during a practice session at Wollongong University. Aaron Abrams has been called up to replace him. Three years ago Dunkley lost a piece of his leg as the surgeons cut away all the infected tissue and he still has a large scar. The damage was eventually repaired by a series of operations and skin grafts.

The Namibia full-back Desmond Snyders has been ruled out of the World Cup after breaking his right collarbone in training at Port Stephens on Saturday. A spokesman said the team had applied for Snyders to be replaced by Deon Grunschross. Snyders only made his test debut in August, coming on as a replacement in Namibia's 82-13 win over Uganda, but did enough to win a place in the squad. Namibia open their tournament against Argentina in Gosford on 14 October, when Jurie Booysen is likely to start at full-back.

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