Mils Muliaina’s World Cup looks over because of injury.
Muliaina, who became the second All Black to play 100 Tests, was subbed in the 41st minute and coach Graham Henry told the media the initial prognosis was not good.
‘I think he is in trouble (injury wise). He’s hurt his shoulder badly and you could see how much he was struggling at the presentation of his 100th Test cap,’ said Henry, who added flyhalf Colin Slade could also be ruled out because of injury.
‘Several players are with the doctor, but the early reports on Colin is that he has hurt his groin. I will only know more in the next 24 hours,’ said Henry. ‘The positive is Aaron (Cruden) played well and enjoyed the occasion.’
Henry has been under pressure all tournament to axe Muliaina for the more dynamic Israel Dagg and the latter’s form suggested Muliaina would be left on 98 Test appearances. Henry, however, selected Dagg as wing against Canada and started Muliaina at fullback. Dagg was also not considered for the quarter-final because of a thigh injury, but will now definitely start at fullback in the semi-final against Australia.
Henry said Kieran Read’s ankle held up well for the second successive match, complimented his team on their composure in the last 20 minutes and paid credit to the Pumas, who he said would get better by regularly playing the All Blacks, South Africa and Australia in the expanded Four Nations in 2012.
‘It will be good for their rugby and for ours,’ said Henry.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw reiterated the game was played over 80 minutes and he felt his players understood the need to keep plugging away.
‘We would have liked to have scored earlier but we played the game in the right areas and I could sense their frustration in the end. They defended very well and were as physical as we knew they would be. I thought it was a good win – as is any win in the play-offs.’
Henry, when asked how he felt, responded: ‘Bloody marvelous. I’ve never been to a World Cup semi-final before.’