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Last Updated: Friday, 5 October 2007, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Zinzan Brooke column
Ex-New Zealand rugby great Zinzan Brooke
By Zinzan Brooke
All Blacks legend

Tom Rees
I can't believe that Tom Rees is not in the English back row, leaving him out against Australia is not a great decision

Although I think the All Blacks will reach the semi-finals, it will not be easy. They have not performed that well so far, they need to click and this is the time to do it.

I have spoken to the guys in the last couple of days and they are feeling quite good. The jitters will start shortly but they are very prepared.

These players have done it before and they will not want a repeat of that memorable semi-final in 1999 when they lost to France at Twickenham.

The key for the All Blacks is to absorb everything France will chuck at them on Saturday, while the set-piece needs to be right.

The breakdown is fine because Richie McCaw will be there like a flash and I have no problem with the scrum but there is a question mark over the line-outs.

In midfield, Mils Muliaina is at outside centre but that switch is fine as he started there before moving to full-back. It is not like in 1999 where we tried Christian Cullen at 13, which did not work.

I expect wings Sitiveni Sivivatu and Joe Rokocoko to penetrate the French defence. If I was French I would be concerned about those two, they can do everything.


The French will be nervous too. They obviously didn't think that they would have a quarter-final in Cardiff.

That performance against Argentina is a bit of a concern and in the rest of the group games they tried a few different selections.

Everyone knows Damien Traille has a big boot and France's tactics will be to kick the ball from deep but dropping Frederick Michalak and picking Lionel Beauxis at fly-half is a big call.

The way New Zealand will win is to beat France up front. If the French do not match them in that area then New Zealand will smash them.

Verdict: New Zealand.

Australia v England

England will be close to Australia when they walk down the tunnel on Saturday. That's about it.

They are going to struggle but, if I am being a bit selfish, I hope they beat Australia because for New Zealand, that will be an easier route to the final.

I want England to do well. There are a few players in the side that are all right but collectively they are not that good.

I cannot believe that Tom Rees is not in the English back row. The top number seven in the world is Richie McCaw, the second is Australia's George Smith, so to leave out Rees is not a great decision.

Smith is going to chew them up. Maybe Rees has been left out because he is too quick and will get isolated because the other two can't get there quick enough.

Brian Ashton has picked Mark Regan at hooker but did he not watch the game against South Africa? Regan is a wily old dog but his number is up.

Stirling Mortlock
If Mortlock does not play well, Australia will lose.

Have England any hope of beating Australia? The track record says no. They lack composure and experience.

England are also without Andy Farrell, a guy who I like. I played golf with him in Portugal six weeks ago and his back was sore then, he only played nine holes.

He is a grafter and it is a loss for England but he is not a Stirling Mortlock. If he was out of Australia's team then that would be a different kettle of fish.

Matt Giteau and Mortlock in midfield are a great combination. I would go as far as to say that if Mortlock does not play well, Australia will lose.

He has that much presence on the field and the players respond to him much more than former skipper George Gregan.

My prediction: Australia - but with a little question mark.

Argentina v Scotland

After Sunday's game the only good thing for Scotland will be that their domestic rugby will be a little stronger next week. All of their players will be back home.

Argentina have too much. They have been the team of the tournament for me, they put a marker down in the first game against France and then they did it again against Ireland.

Scotland are going to have to chuck the kitchen sink at them and then do it again but they are the ones that are going to be doing the washing up.

It is a tough game for Scotland and I do not think it will happen for them.


Do not get me wrong, I like Scottish rugby, but they need to rethink their tactics if they are to have a chance.

They need to learn a couple of lessons from when the Pumas beat Ireland because on that day, Argentina said: "Here is the ball, see what you can do."

I just hope that when players see comments like these they post them on the wall of the dressing room. I want players to shove these words down my throat.

You do not want to see 45-10 scorelines in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. If that is the case then Scotland should not have qualified for the last eight.

My prediction: Argentina

South Africa v Fiji

South Africa will be favourites on Sunday as Fiji probably played their World Cup final against Wales. The Fijians need to get themselves grounded and try to hang on in there.

If Fiji are in with a shout after 60 minutes, then they have got a chance but if they are down 25-30 points in the first 50 minutes then the Boks will walk away with it.

Fiji will score a few tries but this quarter-final against South Africa is a game too far

Zinzan Brooke

The Springboks have a few problems but their forward pack and line-out are strong. In the first 15 to 20 minutes they will be brutal.

But Fiji are well led. They have a world-class coach in Ilivasi Tabua, who has played for Australia and has been in that environment.

Fiji will score a few tries but this quarter-final is a game too far.

They have lost Nicky Little and that will be a concern. You just cannot replace a class player like him.

My prediction: South Africa

Josh Lewsey's column
05 Oct 07 |  English
Scotland unchanged for Pumas game
05 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Farrell ruled out of England side
05 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Mortlock fit to captain Australia
04 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Carter passed fit for French test
04 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
Pumas can teach Celts - Cusworth
04 Oct 07 |  Scottish
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