French prop Sylvain Marconnet will be kept out of the team's first two World Cup matches by a thigh injury, a team spokesman said yesterday.
The announcement came a day after Marconnet underwent a magnetic resonance imaging scan showing a tiny tear to a muscle in his right thigh had not completely healed. The 27-year-old Stade Francais prop had been previously ruled out of France's opener this week against Fiji, and he has not taken part in the team's workouts this week at a stadium in a Brisbane suburb.
His recovery is progressing "favorably" and he will start practicing next week, but he will not be ready to play in time for France's second match against Japan in Townsville on Oct. 18, team spokesman Lionel Rossineux said.
That leaves the position open for Jean-Baptiste Poux.
Marconnet, who has been selected 33 times by his country, hurt himself in September while running sprints at the national team's pretournament training camp in France.
The puma pack
It's no secret that the heart of Argentina's rugby game is its powerful pack. But Felipe Contepomi, who can play either at fly half or center, wants the backs to get some credit too.
Contepomi, who plays for Irish club Leinster, has scored 231 points in 35 tests and believes that the Pumas are becoming a more balanced team while maintaining their forwards strength.
"We are trying to improve, trying to make something nicer to watch," Contepomi said as the Pumas prepared for Friday's opener.
England kicker Jonny Wilkinson is no more than a 7/2 shot to beat the World Cup record 126 points. Bookmakers William Hill rate him 12/1 to beat 150.
New Zealand's Grant Fox set the record in the first World Cup in 1987 with 30 conversions, 20 penalties and one drop goal.
Wilkinson has scored 704 points from 46 internationals and is playing in his second World Cup even though he just 24. He has every chance of beating the world record 1,049 of the retired Welsh star Neil Jenkins, who took 87 games to reach that total.
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