New Zealand may have reached the semi-finals but it has come at a price. Their latest centurion, the full back Mils Muliaina, has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a fractured shoulder, whilst Dan Carter’s replacement Colin Slade will also miss out having ironically strained his groin, the same injury that ruled out Carter.
It is a devastating end to a wonderful international career for Muliaina, who is joining Japanese club NTT Docomo next year. Graham Henry will now be sweating over the fitness of Israel Dagg, the starting full back at the beginning of the tournament, with Cory Jane, Zac Guildford and Isaia Toeava other potential options in the 15 jersey.
Their replacements will be Bath-bound fly half Stephen Donald, and Hurricanes flyer Hosea Gear, whose original omission from the squad came as a surprise. The disruption won’t help the New Zealand public’s heart rates, but the quality of the players coming into the side is without doubt.