Experienced Sivivatu loses the age battle

Winger missing in All Blacks' squad because the coach Henry cannot find place for a player he hailed as 'the best on the field' against Fiji.
Sitiveni Sivivatu will consider himself unlucky to miss out despite being in fine form.
Sitiveni Sivivatu will consider himself unlucky to miss out despite being in fine form.

Sitiveni Sivivatu was the surprise omission from the 30-man New Zealand World Cup squad named by Graham Henry yesterday.

The winger has grounds to count himself unlucky after his stellar performance in the All Blacks' 60-14 victory over Fiji saw Henry heap praise on the Fijian, whom he described as the best player on the field in the first half.

Zac Guildford, the Canterbury Crusaders and Hawke's Bay winger, was chosen ahead of Sivivatu after a fine outing against Australia.

Henry also failed to find a place for Wyatt Crockett, Liam Messam, Jarrad Hoeata and Hosea Gear, after he opted for youth and form as opposed to experience.

Elsewhere Warren Gatland, Wales' New Zealand-born coach, believes Wales should have a no-fear approach when they head to the World Cup in eight days' time.

Wales find themselves in a tough pool, drawn alongside the world champions South Africa, Samoa, Fiji and Namibia.

But Gatland, delighted with an intense summer's preparation highlighted by warm-up victories over England and Argentina, is in upbeat mood after naming his 30-man squad for the tournament.

"I think we are in great shape physically. We shouldn't go there with any fears," Gatland said.

"I really put the players under pressure the week of the second England game this month to beat England at home and to perform [Wales won 19-9].

"In the past, sometimes they have shied away from that responsibility. You could see the heads go down, but they fronted up to what was a big challenge.

"And last weekend, we didn't play that well, but to beat Argentina comfortably was a sign there is something in this squad that is hopefully going to show something at the World Cup.

"The hardest thing about coaching an international side is limited preparation time, and the fact we have had these guys together for a couple of months has made a massive difference to us."

Brian O'Driscoll, meanwhile, has urged Ireland's fringe players to make their presence felt at the World Cup. Luke Fitzgerald and Tomas O'Leary were the two big-name casualties when coach Declan Kidney named his squad for New Zealand on Monday.

Conor Murray, the scrum-half, and the versatile back, Fergus McFadden, are two of the players who are initially expected to offer cover but could force their way into the Test team.

O'Driscoll believes having competition for places is crucial if Ireland want to make an impact at the World Cup. "The people who have been included will be delighted, and now for them it's about pushing for a first XV place. That's the mentality we need to have at the World Cup to make it a success," said the captain.

Published: August 24, 2011 04:00 AM

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