Michael Cheika (Gallo)
London - Australia and Ireland faced tough
choices on Friday over whether to pit star players David Pocock, Israel Folau and
Jonny Sexton into the four North-South Rugby World Cup quarter-final clashes.
Australia delayed for several hours
announcing their team to play Scotland on Sunday because of doubts over Pocock
Scotland, as well as Ireland and Argentina
who dispute Sunday's other game, were all to announce their teams on Friday.
New Zealand and France, and South Africa
and Wales set the sudden death weekend off on Saturday with their games at
Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and Twickenham respectively.
Australia coach Michael Cheika gave No 8
Pocock and star full back Folau a final chance to prove their fitness before
naming his starting XV for the Twickenham game.
"We are going to give Pocock a run
before training and test his fitness," Cheika said. "He ran yesterday
and got into some work."
The coach added that star fullback Folau
"is further advanced than last week. He will do the same as Pocock. He's
further along than Pocock and I am pretty confident he will play."
Folau, yet to score a try in the World Cup,
is seeking to shake off an ankle problem that forced him to leave the field in
the 33-13 Pool A victory over hosts England.
Pocock has a calf muscle injury that saw
him leave the win over Wales early.
Australia go into the game as hot
favourites even though they have lost two of their last three games with
Scotland know they will definitely be
without forwards Ross Ford and Jonny Gray even though they are appealing
against their three week bans.
The Scottish Rugby Union announced on Thursday
that it was challenging punishments handed to hooker Ford and lock Gray for
dumping Samoan Jack Lam on his head with an illegal two-man tip tackle during a
36-33 Pool B win over Samoa.
But the Scots have said they will only
appeal the length of the suspensions, not the finding of guilt itself.
Ireland face their dilemma over 30-year-old
Sexton who limped off after 25 minutes of Ireland's bruising 24-9 victory over
France on Sunday. He could be touch-and-go for the match against Argentina in
Sexton has been running again and the team
had expressed confidence. But the Irish made no announcement on Sexton's
Coach Joe Schmidt normally has a rule that
players must train from the start of the week to be involved in the game plan.
But the team has indicated it could be a last minute decision on whether Sexton
plays at the Millennium on Sunday.
"It's do-or-die kind of stuff, so
there might be some kind of allowances around a few things, especially with our
medical staff," said assistant coach Les Kiss on Wednesday. "We're
quietly confident, we'll see how he goes on Friday," added scrum coach
Ireland also have doubts about Keith Earls
who took a general battering in the France game.
They have already lost Jared Payne and
captain Paul O'Connell to tournament ending injuries.
Argentina already know they must do without
centre Marcelo Bosch who was suspended for one match for a dangerous tackle
against Namibia in the pool games.
New Zealand and France have both named
strong teams for their quarter-final, the pick of Saturday's games.
Ma'a Nonu won a battle with Sonny Bill
Williams for a midfield start in New Zealand's team.
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre caused
his own upset by dropping midfield powerhouse Mathieu Bastareaud to the