TOKYO (AP)The Latest on Thursday at the Rugby World Cup in Japan (all times local):
Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton will set a national record for a halfback pairing when they lead the Ireland attack in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against defending champion New Zealand.
Ireland has lost all seven knockout games at has played at the Rugby World Cup, and is aiming to reach the semifinals for the first time. Its first two wins over New Zealand – at Chicago in 2016 and in Dublin last year, has the Ireland team growing in confidence.
Murray and flyhalf Sexton will combine for the 56th time in test rugby, beating Ireland’s all-time record of 55 held by Peter Stringer and Ronan O’Gara.
Head coach Joe Schmidt made three changes to the starting XV that beat Samoa in the last of the Pool A games, recalling Rob Kearny at fullback, bringing Garry Ringrose into the centers to replace suspended Bundee Aki and returning Peter O’Mahony to the backrow at the expense of Tadhg Beirne.
Robbie Henshaw moves from 13 to 12 to make room for Ringrose in midfield.
Twelve of the starting XV also started in the 16-9 victory against the All Blacks last November.
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, Jacob Stockdale, Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Peter O’Mahony, James Ryan, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best (captain), Cian Healy: Reserves: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Tadhg Beirne, Rhys Ruddock, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour.
Australia coach Michael Cheika has gambled on teenager Jordan Petaia playing at outside center and has recalled Reece Hodge immediately after a three-game suspension in his Wallabies’ starting lineup for the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against England.
The 19-year-old Petaia made his test debut at the World Cup, where he has played in two games on the wing. He’ll join vice-captain Samu Kerevi in a new center combination, while Will Genia and Christian Leali’ifano were confirmed as Australia’s preferred starting halves combination. Genia and Leali’ifano last started a test together in July.
To create space for Petaia, James O’Connor has been relegated to the bench, where he’ll join Nic White and Matt Toomua among the back reserves. There was no space for utility Dane Haylett-Petty.
Michael Hooper will return to lead the Wallabies in his 99th test as Cheika persists with his backrow strategy of playing David Pocock, a regular openside, at No. 6.
Australia and England have meet six times at the Rugby World Cup, with each team winning three times. The Australians won the most-recent of those, a victory that contributed to England’s group-stage exit at the tournament it was hosting.
But England has responded to that loss by winning the last six head-to-head meetings, all under the guidance of ex-Australia coach Eddie Jones.
Australia:Kurtley Beale, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Christian Leali’ifano, Will Genia; Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (captain), David Pocock, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Allan Alaalatoa, Tolu Latu, Scott Sio. Reserves: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Nic White, Matt To’omua, James O’Connor.
All Blacks captain Kieran Read has delivered a stringing rebuke to an Irish critic who described New Zealand’s pre-match haka, an indigenous Maori challenge, as a ”marketing ploy.”
Ewan McKenna, a former Irish sports journalist of the year, created a stir when he said the haka is ”completely overdone” and shouldn’t be led by New Zealanders of European descent, such as Read.
Read says ”it’s not about the opposition or anything, it’s about us as All Blacks, the tradition that’s held for us over 100 years. For us it’s about connecting to the people who have gone before us and the people and the land that we’re in at that moment.”
All Blacks flyhalf Richie Mo’unga said the haka is ”very sacred for us.”
Read will play his 125th test when New Zealand meets Ireland in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday.
Eddie Jones and Michael Cheika, teammates at Sydney club Randwick in the 1980s, are opposing coaches in Saturday’s quarterfinal between England and the Wallabies at the Rugby World Cup.
After announcing his England team to play Australia, Jones was toning down the rhetoric after a reported rift between the two.
”We know about Australia, they are a great tournament side,” said Jones, who coached Australia when it lost to England in the 2003 World Cup final. ”I think Cheik has done a really good job. I’m proud of the job he does. He’s a good old mate of mine …”
Jones has a 6-0 record as England coach against Australia.
Frontrowers Tendai Mtawarira and Bongi Mbonambi have forced their way into South Africa’s starting lineup for the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against Japan.
Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus went back to the bulk of the players who started in the Pool B opener against defending champion New Zealand, but has added veteran prop Mtawarira and hooker Mbonambi on the basis of form over the tournament.
Mtawarira, lock Lood De Jager and flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit started in the upset 34-32 loss to Japan at the 2015 World Cup, a result that has been dubbed the Miracle in Brighton.
Lock Eben Etzebeth and flyhalf Handre Pollard start on Sunday but came off the bench in that game in Brighton four years ago.
South Africa finished second in Pool B after the opening loss to New Zealand. Japan topped Pool A with wins over Russia, Ireland, Samoa and Scotland.
Lineup: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn.
Ireland has announced it won’t appeal the three-man ban for Bundee Aki and will draft Rob Herring into the 31-man squad to replace injured hooker Sean Cronin for the remainder of the Rugby World Cup.
Ireland faces the defending champion New Zealand All Blacks in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
”Unfortunately for Sean Cronin a pre-existing neck muscle complaint flared up this week and although he is expected to recover fully in a couple of weeks the time-frame means he is ruled out of the tournament.,” Irish rugby said. Cronin went on as a replacement in Ireland’s upset loss to Japan and in the win over Russia.
Aki was banned for three weeks after being red-carded for a high tackle in Ireland’s win over Samoa last weekend. His bid to have the red card was overturned by a judicial committee on Monday, but he has remained with the squad as a training partner.
”The Ireland management will not appeal the sanction handed down to Bundee,” the team said in a statement. ”We are disappointed with the outcome and believe that Bundee’s time will be best served helping prepare the squad for its remaining fixtures.”
Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown will combine in midfield in the most vexed selection in the All Blacks starting lineup which will play Ireland Saturday in a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal.
New Zealand had four strong options for two midfield positions, choosing Goodhue after only 11 tests and Lienert-Brown who has been among its best players at the tournament. Sonny Bill Williams is on the bench to add off-loading ability late in the game and veteran Ryan Crotty has been omitted.
Richie Mo’unga starts at flyhalf and Beauden Barrett is at fullback as head coach Steve Hansen continues with his tandem playmaker strategy.
New Zealand has gambled on the fitness of lock Brodie Retallick, who has played one match in three months after a shoulder injury.
Fullback Ben Smith has been displaced from the reserves bench by utility Jordie Barrett, meaning all three Barrett brothers are in the match 23.
Lineup Beauden Barrett, Sevu Reece, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody. Reserves: Dane Coles, Ofa Tuungafasi, Angus Ta’avao, Scott Barrett, Matt Todd, TJ Perenara, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett.
Owen Farrell has moved to flyhalf to replace George Ford and Henry Slade has been drafted into a new midfield combination with Manu Tuilangi in changes to England’s starting XV to play Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals at Oita.
Jonny May has been picked on the left wing and will make his 50th appearance. No. 8 Billy Vunipola has recovered from injury and will form a backrow with Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.
England coach Eddie Jones said the lineup was picked with Australia in mind.
”Once you get to the quarterfinals it’s about having the right mindset. We know how well we can play, it’s about us playing to our strengths and trying to take away from what Australia want,” he said. Tuilagi’s shift from outside to inside center will bolster the defense.
”We need to defend with brutality and when we have the ball we need play on top of them.”
Lineup: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Owen Farrell (captain), Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola. Reserves: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam, Willi Heinz, George Ford, Jonathan Joseph.
And then there were eight. The Rugby World Cup gets down the quarterfinals on the weekend, and four of those teams are expected to name their 23-man squads on Thursday.
One of the most anticipated matches is the first on Saturday when England plays Australia at Oita, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) west of Tokyo. Australia has lost its last six matches to England.
New Zealand plays Ireland in the other Saturday quarterfinal at Tokyo.On Sunday, Wales plays France at Oita and Japan takes on South Africa at Tokyo.
Japan has delighted the host country with a 4-0 record in pool play, including a win over an Irish team that was ranked No. 1 before the tournament and a 28-21 win over Scotland.
The semifinals are scheduled for Yokohama on Oct. 26 and 27, with the final at the same stadium on Nov. 2.
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