Monday’s rugby news has Cheika content with injury-free Wallabies, Genia pushing for a start, Wales suffering and retirement hitting Wilkinson hard.
Cheika satisfied with win
Australia have wrapped up their World Cup preparations with a 47-10 victory over the US Eagles in a hard-fought test match at Soldier Field. The Wallabies were only up 14-10 after an error-ridden first half, but coach Michael Cheika said that in his selection “there were a few guys there who hadn’t played football for a long time.”
He cited his side’s big forwards like locks Kane Douglas and Rob Simmons and backrowers Ben McCalman at No. 6 and Wycliff Palu who ran at No. 8. “The effort was there from our lads. We lost our way with some of our decision making,” he said.
Genia makes his case
Will Genia has made a strong case to win back his starting spot on the eve of the Rugby World Cup, replacing Nick Phipps shortly after half-time. The former Reds number 9 started the Test season on the run-on side against the Springboks, but missed the past three Tests after he picked up a leg injury.
“I was really looking forward, to getting back out there and playing footy, I think the surgery on my knee fixed up a lot of niggling injuries and issues that have been sort of hanging around for a while,” he said. The decision may also be influenced by the Michael Cheika’s choice at flyhalf, with Phipps more experienced in combination with Foley.
Wales under injury cloud
Wales has beaten Italy 23-19 on Saturday but have paid a high price in victory, with halfback Rhys Webb and fullback Leigh Halfpenny both injured in their final World Cup warm-up. Webb, the Pro12 player of the season, suffered an horrific-looking ankle injury midway through the first half and will likely be ruled out of the World Cup.
Halfpenny suffered a knee injury in the latter stages and was carried from the pitch on a stretcher, facing a race against time to make any impact on the tournament. “It is not great, is it? If they are ruled out, it is a massive blow,” Gatland said. “But this is sport and it is one of those things and we will have to work with the players we’ve got.”
England’s 2003 World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson has described his struggle to recognise himself after retirement. Wilkinson, England’s leading points scorer, has talked about the difficulty in life after rugby, with so much of his life attached to his meticulous training and achievements.
“I’m feeling that life is going on and my appearance has been associated with my historical stuff and that’s breaking apart,” he said. On the plus side, Wilkinson emphasised that he will be able to draw on his experiences during a four year stretch of injuries, with problems affecting his knee ligaments, arm, shoulder and even one of his kidneys.