May 25, 2013
Sheridan departs World Cup as injuries mount
England prop Andrew Sheridan and French flyhalf David Skrela hobbled home from the rugby World Cup just as Samoa entered the fray with a resounding win and New Zealanders fretted about the back of prized asset Dan Carter.
On the field, Canada fought back to claim an opening 25-20 win over Tonga in an entertaining match in Whangarei while Scotland overcame eastern European opposition for the second match in a row as they beat Georgia 15-6.
But for all the good play on the field, Wednesday stood out for injuries as Sheridan became the latest casualty of Saturday's brutal Pool B clash between England and Argentina.
"It's a big blow to leave the World Cup through injury, but it's a significant injury to the shoulder, so I have to deal with that and get on with it now," Sheridan said in a statement.
England manager Martin Johnson already has four other props in his squad and is yet to call up a replacement for the powerful loosehead. England face Georgia on Sunday.
France coach Marc Lievremont does not have such riches, however, with only one fit flyhalf after Skrela's World Cup ended following just 11 minutes of action against Japan.
Lievremont has called up uncapped Jean-Marc Doussain but the 20-year-old must first play for his club Toulouse against Biarritz on Friday, leaving the French with just Francois Trinh-Duc as the probable starter for the remaining Pool A matches.
France play Canada in Napier on Sunday before facing tournament favourites New Zealand on September 24.
"I hope that we don't have any injuries against Canada because it would be difficult for Doussain to be on the teamsheet for next weekend," Lievremont said of the young flyhalf's late arrival ahead of the key Pool A clash.
While the importance of Trinh-Duc's health rocketed in the French camp his value to the team remains minor in comparison to the importance of Carter to New Zealand.
The indispensable flyhalf was scratched, having been earlier named, in the All Blacks team on Wednesday because of a sore back meaning a late call up for understudy Colin Slade.
Rugby's record points scorer Carter is expected to miss only the Japan match but any injury to the poster boy of New Zealand rugby is enough to concern a rugby-obsessed nation who have previous World Cup failings without him fresh in the memory.
The All Blacks were dumped out at the quarter-final stages in 2007 by France after Carter was injured earlier in the game and coach Graham Henry has unsuccessfully spent the years since trying to find an adequate backup.
Carter's injury took the gloss of what should have been a day of celebration in the New Zealand squad with captain Richie McCaw set to become the first All Black to win 100 caps after being named to face Japan in Hamilton on Friday.
"He's an inspirational person for New Zealanders, and the team, by being the person that he is and the way he plays the game," Henry said of his captain's achievement.
Adam Thomson will join McCaw in the loose forwards as the All Blacks injury problems, Carter aside, appeared to be easing.
The same cannot be said for Tri-Nations rivals South Africa.
The Springboks have been hit by a series of problems since the start of the World Cup and winger Bryan Habana became the latest victim after being ruled out of the clash with Fiji.
Habana has a knee injury and joins lock duo Victor Matfield (hamstring) and Bakkies Botha (Achilles) and centre Jean de Villiers (ribs) on the sidelines for the holder's Pool D match in Wellington on Saturday.