New Zealand captain McCaw fit for Rugby World Cup semifinal

Injured All Blacks prepare for Wallabies
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Story highlights

  • Richie McCaw is declared fit for New Zealand's Rugby World Cup semifinal
  • All Blacks captain has been struggling with a foot injury throughout the tournament
  • Wales make one change to their team ahead of last-four tie against France
  • France coach Marc Lievremont names an unchanged team for Saturday's match

New Zealand captain and key forward Richie McCaw has been passed fit for Sunday's Rugby World Cup semifinal clash with neighbors Australia in Auckland.

Reports had suggested the flanker could miss the host nation's eagerly-awaited showdown with the two-time world champion Wallabies due to a foot injury, after the 30-year-old played a limited role in this week's training sessions.

But McCaw has been named in Graham Henry's starting XV as the All Blacks aim to reach their first final at the four-yearly tournament since winning the inaugural event on home soil 24 years ago.

Aaron Cruden comes in at flyhalf for only his eighth Test appearance after Dan Carter's deputy Colin Slade aggravated a groin injury during the quarterfinal win over Argentina last weekend.

Piri Weepu retains his place at scrumhalf after kicking 21 points in New Zealand's 33-10 victory over the Pumas.

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But despite his match-winning display in Auckland, Weepu's joy at reaching the semifinals was countered by learning his paternal grandfather had passed away.

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"It was pretty tough at the beginning," the 28-year-old told reporters. "Especially coming off the field on Sunday, seeing my father trying to get a hold of me. He pretty much broke the news.

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"It was pretty tough but I'm back in camp now and I've got the support I need from the boys to help me get through this week and hopefully put in a good effort."

Australia beat New Zealand 25-20 when the two sides met in the Tri-Nations in August, and the Wallabies have won their last two World Cup contests -- in the semifinals in 1991 and 2003.

Kurtley Beale has been selected at fullback for the Wallabies in the hope the 22-year-old will recover from a hamstring injury.

If Beale fails to make Sunday's encounter, Adam Ashley-Cooper will fill in and be replaced at outside center by 24-year-old Anthony Faingaa.

Australia, coached by former All Blacks fullback Robbie Deans, will have to become the first team to beat New Zealand at Eden Park in 17 years to reach a fourth World Cup final.

Wales have reached the last four for the first time since 1987, and coach Warren Gatland has made one change to the team which recorded a 22-10 win over Ireland in the quarterfinals ahead of Saturday's semi with France.

James Hook replaces the injured Rhys Priestland at flyhalf for what will be his 58th international cap as Wales look to reach their first World Cup final.

France, beaten by New Zealand in the 1987 final, will be unchanged following the 19-12 win over England.

Coach Marc Lievremont's Les Blues will attempt to repeat their 28-9 defeat of Wales in this year's Six Nations.