Ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand, Black Caps captain Richie McCaw refused to confirm whether it will be his last match for his country.
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Australia have made one change for Saturday’s World Cup final against New Zealand after Scott Sio completed his recovery from an elbow injury.
Sio is restored at loosehead prop, with James Slipper dropping down to the bench for the climax to England 2015 at Twickenham.
Australia have one survivor from their last appearance in a World Cup final 12 years ago in centre Matt Giteau, who has been passed fit after suffering a groin injury in the 29-15 semi-final victory over Argentina.
Number eight David Pocock and full-back Israel Folau have shown no adverse affects from the respective calf and ankle complaints that forced them to miss the clash with Scotland in the last eight.
“This week we’ve had a strong focus on improving certain areas in our game where we feel we haven’t been at our best in previous matches,” head coach Michael Cheika said.
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) October 29, 2015
“We still have lots of scope to improve and we’ll work on that before this next match against New Zealand.
“Our lads are learning to cherish each opportunity they have in the gold jersey and this week we have that opportunity again. We’ll be doing our best to make Australia proud of its rugby team.”
I Folau; A Ashley-Cooper, T Kuridrani, M Giteau, D Mitchell; B Foley, W Genia; S Sio, S Moore (capt), S Kepu, K Douglas, S Simmons, S Fardy, M Hooper, D Pocock.
Replacements: T Polota-Nau, J Slipper, G Holmes, D Mumm, B McCalman, N Phipps, M Toomua, K Beale.
Aviva Premiership club Bath say Sam Burgess will be back in training with them next Monday following time off after the World Cup.
Burgess, who has two years left on his contract with Bath, has taken a break in Spain, with reports stating that a return to rugby league side South Sydney Rabbitohs is under serious consideration.
But a Bath spokesperson said on Thursday: “Sam Burgess is just starting the second year of a three-year contract with Bath Rugby.
“We gave him time off after he returned from the World Cup, as we will all England players, and he will be back in training on Monday.”
Bath head coach Mike Ford, meanwhile, admits that Burgess “didn’t quite feel right” after the World Cup, but is convinced he will remain a rugby union player.
The 26-year-old was a controversial selection for England’s World Cup squad and his presence is understood to have been a divisive issue among players due to his lack of union experience.
“Last week, Sam came back into training because initially that’s what he wanted, but then he did and he didn’t quite feel right,” Ford told reporters.
“We decided to give him time off there and then, which means that he’s gone away to get refreshed and will be back in training on November 2.
“There are no dramas here. Everyone has put two and two together, seen him sitting next to (England rugby league coach) Steve McNamara watching his brother play rugby league.”
When asked if he was 100 per cent certain that Burgess would stay at Bath, Ford said: “Yes. I’ve spoken to Sam many times. We’ve talked about him coming back to Bath, rolling up his sleeves up and playing six (blindside flanker) for us.”
Burgess was defensively solid but otherwise underwhelming on his debut against World Cup warm-up opponents France in August, yet had done enough to be chosen ahead of Burrell. The management repeatedly stated his selection was based on the strength of his performances in training.
— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) October 29, 2015
Other than a strong final-quarter cameo off the bench against a tiring Fiji in the World Cup opener, he was unable to make an impression on the World Cup as England crashed out in the pool stage.
Adding to the opposition over his presence at the tournament after serving only a 10-month union apprenticeship was England’s decision to use him at number 12 when he had played his best rugby for Bath at flanker.
Ford insists his union future lies in the number six jersey only.
“Everything we’ve spoken about is the future,” Ford said. “It’s about playing well for Bath and playing in the (European) Champions Cup.
“And then potentially getting him playing for England in the Six Nations at six and if not, then on the end of season tour to Australia.