New Zealand go into their impending World Cup quarter finals against Argentina on Saturday following a mixed bag of news from their medical staff this week. Massive relief will be felt throughout the country now that captain Richie McCaw has declared himself fit for the clash against Santiago Phelen’s side, but that news was soured slightly when it was revealed star winger Zac Guildford will not win his race to overcome the hamstring strain he suffered in training on Wednesday.
The blow couldn’t have come at a worse time for either the player on an individual level following his personal haul four tries against Canada during the All Blacks’ last Pool A match; or for the team as a whole who are still reeling following the news that first choice fly-half Dan Carter has been ruled out for the rest of the competition after tearing a groin muscle during kicking practice. Those following the 2011 Rugby World Cup betting will be wondering if the side can cope with such a blow.
Guildford was initially unsure of the severity of his injury, saying on Wednesday that he had pulled up at training but had not been given sufficient time to fully assess the full extent of the damage yet. However, the news from the doctors in the aftermath of that incident was not good, and now it now seems that any hopes he may harbour of playing another match at this tournament rest entirely on the shoulders of his team-mates.
New Zealand go into the game as huge favourites regardless of injuries, with many pundits and former players saying that this quarter final draw was just about the only one they would be brave enough to predict – and the history books certainly suggest that they might be right with Argentina yet to beat the All Blacks in a Test match in seventeen attempts. The Rugby World Cup betting makes the host nation strong favourites.
But one man not taking anything for granted is lock Ali Williams, who this week outlined the danger that the Argentinians pose to his side’s chances of winning the World Cup for the first time since 1987.
“I think Argentina are a very strong outfit. Their game suits knockout competition and you take them lightly at your own peril. If we do take them lightly then it will be a quiet old Monday for us,” he said.