World Cup D-Day looms for three injured Kiwis
DAVID LONG IN MANCHESTER
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The Kiwis will make a decision tonight regarding the fitness of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Frank Pritchard and Manu Vatuvei ahead of this weekend's Rugby League World Cup final against Australia.
Tuivasa-Sheck has a problem with his right leg, Vatuvei is getting over a groin injury and Pritchard is recovering from a hamstring strain.
All three sat out of the team's training session in Leigh last night, but will be tested out today at the team's last full session before the final, which kicks off at 3.30am on Sunday.
If they can't get though the training session tonight, Kiwis manager Tony Iro says it's too big a call to just give them Friday's captain's run as their only training session of the week.
"Obviously we've got some good news with Roger, that there isn't a fracture [to his fibula]," Iro said "We will give him time before he has a decent hitout and that will be the same for Manu and Frank Pritchard.
"Wednesday [UK time, tonight in New Zealand] is the day that they'll probably have to show the coaches that they're ready for a game of footy.
"So we'll test them out that they're 100 per cent and hopefully we'll get some good news out of all three of them.
"Roger is feeling a lot better, all three players are obviously really keen on playing. "For the coaches, they'll need to be fully tested by Wednesday to be considered for the final." If none of them are available it leaves Jason Nightingale as the only healthy winger left in the squad and it may result in Dean Whare being pushed out wide and Krisnan Inu coming into the team.
If Pritchard is again absent, Simon Mannering should once more play in the second row and Elijah Taylor at lock.
Many of the players were badly beaten up in the 20-18 semifinal against England and Sonny Bill Williams called it the toughest game of his career afterwards.
Iro said they had to carefully manage the players' recovery over the past few days.
"Physically, it was a really tough game," he said. "There have been tough games during the tournament, but this was up a significant level.
"As the game played out, it was a pretty quick game, but it had an emotional toll too with the way it finished.
"We have been really mindful over the last 48 hours that we get our recovery right and that when they come to training they hit the ground running as much as they can.
"They have been really good over the last month in terms of their intensity and I don't expect that to be any different with the World Cup final coming up."
- Fairfax Media
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