Earl and England look ahead to Rugby World Cup semi-final
The Rugby World Cup is back with the first of its semi-finals tonight, as New Zealand take on Argentina for the chance to book their place in next weekend’s final. They will be competing against either England or South Africa, who contest Saturday’s semi.
New Zealand overcame tournament favourites Ireland while Argentina upset Wales to reach the final four, though the All Blacks will be considered as the likely team to make it to the final in an all-southern hemisphere clash.
This comes after Steve Borthwick named his England team to face the Springbok on Thursday, with Freddie Steward returning at full-back in place of Marcus Smith the highlight of the changes from victory over Fiji – as Smith has been a concern following his head injury in the quarters.
As we gear up for the final few games of the tournament, there is still plenty of news and controversy to come from the four teams left in France as they battle for a place in Paris’ final.
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New Zealand play down favourites tag
New Zealand coach Ian Foster has played down the suggestion that the All Blacks are the overwhelming favourite for tonight’s semi-final against Argentina.
The two southern hemisphere sides are well versed in each other and Foster will be aware of their threats, after the Pumas stunned Wales in the quarter-finals.
“There are two teams in the semi-final – anyone can win,” said the All Blacks boss. “That’s the first mindset both teams have.
“We are massively respectful of Argentina. We know that they have had a great tournament. We don’t live in the past in terms of results. Rugby World Cup tournaments are really about the present. It’s about the best team on the night.”
Coach sent death threats
South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has been the subject of death threats on social media ahead of the Springbok’s semi-final with England.
The team’s chief Rassie Erasmus posted three such threats on his social media page to highlight the abuse that Nienaber has received.
Erasmus wrote: “Unfortunately these threats was made to Cobus Reinach!! Its not nice and upsets a mom and dad to see things like that said about their boy! But we are not gonna whine, we will just move on!!! Hulle weet nie wat ons weet nie.”
England ‘disrespect’ slammed
England icon James Haskell has hit out at what he believes to be “disrespectful” media coverage of Steve Borthwick’s side at the World Cup.
South Africa have been tipped to reach next week’s final at England’s expense, but Haskell has not been impressed with how Owen Farrell and co have been talked about in the build-up to Saturday’s match.
“I think it’s very disrespectful to this England side not to give them a chance,” he said. “I think there are some unbelievable players, some fantastic coaches, some guys who work very hard and, actually, they’ve got on with their business.”
Hello and welcome to Express Sport’s live coverage of the Rugby World Cup, where we will be keeping you up to date with all the latest news while covering tonight’s semi-final between New Zealand and Argentina.
Check out yesterday’s blog in order to make sure you’re fully up to date as we enter the weekend’s action.
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