Fri, Sep 14, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Farrell faces biggest test in vital clash with the Springboks


The outcome of today's vital Rugby World Cup game between England and South Africa may be just as dependent upon those who are absent as those playing.

Jonny Wilkinson, Phil Vickery and Olly Barkley have all been forced out, while 2003 World Cup winners Lawrence Dallaglio and Joe Worsley, plus Mark Cueto, were left out of England's 22 by coach Brian Ashton.

South Africa haven't been hit as hard. But with flanker Schalk Burger suspended and insider center Jean de Villiers out of the World Cup because of a torn bicep muscle, the Springboks will be missing two influential players.

Playing in just his seventh test since switching codes from rugby league in 2005, Andy Farrell will start at flyhalf and kick goals for England for the first-ever time -- two roles he doesn't even fulfill for his club Saracens.

With opposing goal kicker Percy Montgomery contributing 29 points in South Africa's 59-7 win over Samoa last Sunday, Farrell's inexperience with the lighter balls used has prompted extra practice kicking sessions.

Not that South Africa coach Jake White has been totally content with his buildup.

"We are not happy about the decision, we will appeal it," he said of Burger's four-match ban for a high tackle on Samoa No. 9 Junior Polu.

Burger's ban was reduced to just two games after the appeal yesterday. The decision means Burger can return to action in South Africa's final Pool A game against the US on Sept. 30.


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