NEW Zealand is fretting again. First there was the loss for the whole tournament of their talisman Dan Carter when the world record points scorer and outside half supremo pulled up with a serious groin injury in training.

Now there are worries about their equally influential captain Richie McCaw who has just become the first All Black to top 100 caps.

He has been playing with a foot injury which refuses to clear up and he needs a pain killing injection before he can take the field.

He is down to lead the side in tomorrow’s quarter-final against Argentina, but it is feared he may have to pull out before kick-off, possibly to preserve himself for a much more demanding semi-final and possibly final after that.

Losing one of their two world renowned figures is bad enough. But the possibility of having to get through the knock-out stages without the pair of them is causing nationwide anxiety.

A Wales-Ireland clash with a difference - a leading New Zealand newspaper chose to preview today’s Celtic quarter-final with a competition between the rival cultures.

Interesting and amusing enough to repeat snatches of it, like rock/pop: winner, Wales Manics v the Corrs among others; actors: winner, too close Richard Burton v Peter O’Toole; films: winner, Ireland Bloody Sunday v How Green Was My Valley; sports stars (except rugby): winner, Ireland George Best, Rory McIlroy v Joe Calzaghe, Ryan Giggs; writers: dead heat, Brendan Behan, George Bernard Shaw v Ken Follett, Dylan Thomas; drink: winner, Ireland Guinness v Brains; vegetable: winner Ireland yet again, potato v leek.

TRYING to make up for lost ground? Stephen Jones who hails from Rogerstone and has long since been chief rugby correspondent of the Sunday Times isn’t finally trying to butter up to New Zealand is he?!

Listed as one of the ten people New Zealanders most love to hate because they think he hates them he wrote a column in the Rugby Heaven section of the Dominion today saying how it would be good for the World Cup if the All Blacks win it.

Why? Because he says they back themselves and they are bold. Pretty bold stuff coming from the man of Gwent, but he never does fail to ask me how the Dragons are doing and is thrilled by the progress of Toby Faletau, Dan Lydiate & Co.