(Adds Muliaina comment in final item.)
Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The following is a roundup of stories from the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
Murray, O’Gara Start
Ireland selected Conor Murray at scrum-half and retained Ronan O’Gara at fly-half for its decisive pool match against Italy on Oct. 2 in Dunedin.
Murray beat Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss to a starting place, while his Munster teammate O’Gara was chosen ahead of Jonathan Sexton after being named man of the match in the 62-12 win over Russia five days ago.
“This is the right combination for us against Italy,” Ireland coach Declan Kidney said in comments distributed by tournament organizers. “They’ve played a few times together now.”
Pool C leader Ireland will finish atop the five-team group if it avoids defeat. Italy, which could seal a quarterfinal place and eliminate the Irish by winning, made one change as Andrea Masi replaced Luke McLean at full-back.
Wales Rest Williams
Wales rested winger Shane Williams for its final pool game against Fiji in two days so the nation’s record try scorer can recover fully from a thigh strain.
“Shane might have been available to us if we had pushed him,” Wales coach Warren Gatland said. “But he has taken a limited part in training this week and we are happy with the back three we have been able to put on the field.”
Leigh Halfpenny and George North will play on the wings, while Lee Byrne continues at full-back and Scott Williams partners Jamie Roberts in the centers. Fly-half Rhys Priestland replaces Stephen Jones and Mike Phillips returns at scrum-half.
Hooker Huw Bennett was recalled to the front row alongside Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins. Luke Charteris replaces Alun Wyn Jones in the second row.
Samoa winger Alesana Tuilagi was fined NZ$10,000 ($7,700) by the International Rugby Board for wearing a branded mouthguard in a pool match, Television New Zealand reported.
Tuilagi’s mouthguard wasn’t approved by the IRB before Samoa’s Sept. 25 match against Fiji, TVNZ said.
IRB spokesman Dominic Rumbles said in an e-mail that he couldn’t confirm if a fine was issued to Tuilagi. Tournament organizer Rugby World Cup Ltd. said it communicated kit specifications to the teams almost two years ago and had issued warnings during the early stages of the tournament to ensure team management and players were aware of their obligations.
“While fines and warnings have been issued during the tournament, it is not RWCL’s position to publicize any breaches or sanctions of what is a contractual matter between RWCL and the participating unions,” RWCL said in an e-mailed statement.
Read, Muliaina Return
Full-back Mils Muliaina and No. 8 Kieran Read returned to the All Blacks lineup as selectors made seven changes for their final pool match against Canada in two days.
Muliaina will make his 99th Test appearance as Israel Dagg switches to the wing in place of Cory Jane, while Read will play his first World Cup game after recovering from an ankle injury. Zac Guildford replaces Richard Kahui on the other wing and Sonny Bill Williams takes over from Ma’a Nonu at inside center.
“It’s been a long three weeks,” Muliaina said at a news conference. “I get an opportunity now to get out there. The guys have set a benchmark.”
Andrew Hore was named at hooker with Ali Williams in the second row. Jimmy Cowan gets the starting scrum-half role in what will be his 50th Test.
--Editor: Paul Tighe
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