Pritchard blow for fighting Canucks
Pritchard blow for fighting CanucksSHARE
Goalkicking fullback James Pritchard will miss Canada’s final World Cup Pool A match against unbeaten group leaders New Zealand in Wellington on Sunday.
Pritchard picked up a knock to the head in Tuesday’s 23-23 draw with Japan and will be replaced by Matt Evans, who slides across from the wing.
Conor Trainor comes off the bench to take Evans’ spot in what is otherwise a full-strength Canadian team.
“We decided when we came to the World Cup to field the best team in every game,” said Canada’s coach Kieran Crowley, a former All Blacks fullback and New Zealand selector.
Crowley, whose side pulled off a surprise 25-20 opening win over Tonga but lost 46-19 to France before the Japan draw, was left ruing the short turnaround from their most recent match.
“It’s been a five-day turnaround for this one,” he said. “Five didn’t train today because of soft tissue issues.”
Crowley added that he had been impressed by his side’s progress at the World Cup.
“We’ve made a massive improvement,” he said. “I’d rather be sat here with three wins, of course, but our performances against France and Tonga were pretty damn good, I was really pleased with those two.
“But we showed a lack of maturity against Japan.”
Crowley struggled to find any weak points in the All Blacks’ game, warning that their starting XV would be fired up for good individual performances ahead of the knockout phase of the tournament.
“You don’t have weaknesses when you’re the All Blacks or South Africa,” he said. “We just have to attack areas where we think there is a creak in their structure.
“The All Blacks will be pushing their claims for a quarterfinal spot. We’ve got some goals within the team and if we hit three or four of those, we’ll be happy.”
Captain Pat Riordan said playing New Zealand was a “chance to measure yourself against the best team in the world” but that it did offer a “mental hurdle”.
“It’s exciting to be doing it in their country at the World Cup,” he said. “The onus is on us to make it a good memory.
“When you play them in a game, you realise they’re only human and do go down, even though they do play at speed and sometimes you’re left thinking ‘Wow, that wasn’t bad’.”
Crowley added a word of praise for counterpart Graham Henry, who will lead the All Blacks for the 100th time on Sunday.
“It’s a great achievement in this day and age, he’s done a great job,” he said.
Canada: 15 Matt Evans, 14 Conor Trainor, 13 DTH van der Merwe, 12 Ryan Smith, 11 Phil Mackenzie, 10 Ander Monro, 9 Ed Fairhurst, 8 Aaron Carpenter, 7 Chauncey O’Toole, 6 Adam Kleeberger, 5 Jamie Cudmore, 4 Jebb Sinclair, 3 Jason Marshall, 2 Pat Riordan (captan), 1 Hubert Buydens.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Hamilton, 17 Scott Franklin, 18 Andrew Tiedemann, 19 Tyler Hotson, 20 Nanyak Dala, 21 Sean White, 22 Nathan Hirayama.
Date: Sunday, October 2
Venue: Regional Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 15.30 (02.30 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Carlo Damasco (Italy)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)