Steve Hansen wants to ensure New Zealand do not repeat past mistakes by getting caught up in the "euphoria" of a quarter-final triumph when they battle England for a place in the Rugby World Cup showpiece.

Two-time defending champions the All Blacks are the favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup once again but must overcome Eddie Jones' side in Yokohama on Saturday to keep their hopes of doing so alive.

New Zealand produced a commanding display to brush aside Ireland, who started the tournament in Japan as the top-ranked side in the world, 46-14 in the last eight.

But Hansen warned against looking beyond a blockbuster semi-final with England, something he feels they have been guilty of in the past.

"Sometimes I think people come off the euphoria of winning the quarter-final, and then they start looking ahead at the final," said Hansen.

"I think that could have been a mistake that we've made in the past. I think we may have even done it in 2007, looking beyond the quarter-final. And when you start looking beyond where you're actually at, then your mind's not where your feet are, and you're vulnerable.

"I think that's probably why they would say it's tough, because you've just come off the euphoria of winning the quarter-final knowing you now have an opportunity, and then you may start looking at that opportunity before you've actually earned the right to look at it."

Jones on Thursday moved away from his apparent attempts at kidology earlier this week, having claimed someone had spied on England training without accusing the All Blacks, of whom he said "the pressure will be chasing them down the street".

England have lost each of their past six Tests against New Zealand and the head coach is relishing the chance to put that right.

"It's going to be a great contest, isn't it? Two heavyweights, one dressed in black, one dressed in white. You couldn't think of a better scenario," said Jones.

"I think it's a great week, it's one of the most exciting weeks in world rugby.

"You get a press conference [with this many people] usually only when you've done something bad.

"We haven't done anything bad yet, so it's an exceptional week for us."

Kieran Read and Jonny May overcame injury concerns to feature in the starting XV for New Zealand and England respectively.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England - George Ford

Having been dropped to the bench for the quarter-final success over Australia, Ford will want to prove himself after returning to the starting XV as the only change. Jones highlighted the fly-half's impressive work-rate and he will want to deliver on that after replacing captain Owen Farrell, who will start at outside centre, in the number 10 shirt.

New Zealand - Scott Barrett

Hansen too only made one alteration to his line-up, with lock Barrett replacing Sam Cane in the back row. Barrett has never started an All Blacks game at flanker so it will be interesting to see if the coach's tactical decision pays dividends.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the fourth World Cup clash between England and New Zealand. The All Blacks have won each of the previous three (1991, 1995, 1999) including their only knockout encounter, which came in the semi-finals of the 1995 tournament in South Africa.
- England had just 10 minutes and 34 seconds of possession in their quarter-final victory against Australia, their lowest amount in a game since Opta have recorded this data (2010).
- The All Blacks have averaged the most points (51), tries (7.3), metres (642), clean breaks (22), defenders beaten (39) and offloads (17) of any side at this World Cup.
- Billy Vunipola is in line to win his 50th cap for England. New Zealand are the one side he has yet to beat in an England shirt (L4), notching up victories against each of the other 11 nations he has faced.

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has hailed Wales head coach Warren Gatland as a "legend" ahead of their Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown on Sunday.

Gatland masterminded a Grand Slam triumph in the final Six Nations campaign of his tenure this year and stands on the brink of leading Wales into a first World Cup final.

Erasmus hailed the New Zealander, who will end his long reign after the tournament in Japan, as he prepares to pit his wits against the wily British and Irish Lions coach in Yokohama this weekend.

"Warren is an absolute legend of the game. You very seldom see him in a mouth fight and mudslinging before Test matches," said Erasmus.

"I've never been there having to reply to something he says, and he doesn't bite at you to create unnecessary nonsense before a Test match, so I've got a lot of respect for him as a person.

"His results on the field speak for themselves, with the Welsh team and the British and Irish Lions."

Erasmus made one enforced change to his side following an emphatic win over Japan, Sbu Nkosi replacing Cheslin Kolbe (ankle).

Gatland will be hoping Jonathan Davies is available to return after missing the quarter-final win over France with a knee injury, but Erasmus says they have enough quality to cope without the centre.

"They've almost got a southern hemisphere backline in terms of size." Erasmus said of the Six Nations champions.

"I know [Dan] Biggar is maybe not as big as other guys, but definitely busy. Hadleigh Parkes is a big guy, Davies is a physical guy. I think he was backline player of the tour in New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions.

"You've got [George] North, who is a big boy, and Liam Williams, who was always outstanding and physical. So, if they lose him [Davies], they will definitely lose a guy who is intimidating, who's got soft skills, experience.

"But then again, they've still got Liam there, Biggar, good guys off the bench, still got [Leigh] Halfpenny there.

"They've got a great pack of forwards, but their backline is a big threat. If they do lose him, they will lose somebody like we've lost Cheslin, but hell, they've got some great other players as well."

Eddie Jones does not think anyone outside the England camp believes they can beat New Zealand in a blockbuster Rugby World Cup semi-final on Saturday.

New Zealand go into the clash in Yokohama two victories away from lifting the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time in succession, but Jones is happy to be the underdog.

The Australian said this week "the pressure will be chasing [the All Blacks] down the street", while his team could play without the burden of expectation.

Although Jones admitted to a degree of anxiety about the clash, he hopes to help his team thrive against the favourites for success in Japan.

"There's always nerves - you're only human - but there's that mixture between being nervous and excited which is the reason you coach," Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"To be involved in a game like this is the most fantastic experience as a coach, and it's what you live for.

"Out of one hundred journalists in the room, as we saw, 97 think New Zealand are going to win.

"The three who put up their hands put them up timidly and hoped no one saw them put up their hands.

"Our 31 players plus 20-odd staff believe we can win, and we're the only people in Japan who believe we can win. We'll take that situation and maximise it."

Jones' men have lost their past six matches against New Zealand but 11 players in the squad for Saturday's match have experience of beating the All Blacks, either in England's 38-21 victory in December 2012 or the British and Irish Lions' second Test success in 2017.

The England boss believes that will hold the team in good stead as they look to cause an upset.

"I think traditionally when you play against New Zealand, the pace and intensity of the game gets you," said Jones.

"If you have experienced that before, you understand what you have got to prepare yourself for, and most of our squad have been involved in those games so we've got great experience.

"They know what New Zealand are going to bring to the game and they have practised this week to be equipped for it.

"We are ready for the game, we've had two-and-a-half years to prepare for this game so we are ready to go."

George Ford will return at fly-half in the only change for England, while Steve Hansen's sole alteration for the All Blacks sees Scott Barrett replace Sam Cane.

George Ford has returned to England's starting line-up for the blockbuster Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown with New Zealand on Saturday.

Coach Eddie Jones went with Owen Farrell at fly-half for the last-eight win against Australia but has brought Ford back to face the All Blacks in Yokohama. It means captain Farrell will again be shifted to outside centre at the expense of Henry Slade.

Billy Vunipola will win his 50th Test cap, while fellow back-row forward Mark Wilson is named in the 23 for just the second time in the tournament. He takes Lewis Ludlam's spot among the replacements.

"Preparation has been good this week after a solid win against Australia," said Jones. "When you get to this stage of the World Cup it is all about focusing on being in the moment and getting yourself physically right.

"The squad has approached the game well, with real maturity. It has helped having players here who have been on the [British and Irish] Lions tour and played against New Zealand. They have been involved in some of the biggest games in world rugby so this semi-final won't faze them.

"New Zealand are a great team, they have an impressive winning record since the last World Cup. Like any good team, you have got to take away time and space from them; you have to find areas you can pressure them. We believe we have identified a number of areas where we can do that."

Jones added: "It is a great achievement for Billy to reach 50 Test matches for England and something that is very special for the team. I know his family will be very proud of him and even more so to play the game alongside his brother Mako."

Like Jones, New Zealand coach Steve Hansen also made just one change to his starting XV, with Scott Barrett replacing Sam Cane.

 

England: Elliot Daly, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler, Dan Cole, George Kruis, Mark Wilson, Willi Heinz, Henry Slade, Jonathan Joseph.

Eddie Jones' suggestion that England were spied on ahead of the Rugby World Cup semi-finals was branded "the best clickbait in the world" by New Zealand boss Steve Hansen.

Australian Jones this week said England were aware of someone filming from an apartment near their training base in Chiba, though he did not accuse last-four opponents the All Blacks directly.

Hansen, who named made one change to his line-up for Saturday's match in Yokohama by replacing Sam Cane with Scott Barrett, was unsurprised by the media's reaction.

"Eddie and I both know that all is fair in love and war and there is nothing better in war than throwing a wee distraction out that you guys [the media] can't resist," said Hansen.

"It's the best clickbait in the world: 'Someone's spying on us.' He didn't call at us. He was very deliberate in not doing that.

"He talked about it being somebody else. It was probably the same bloke who videoed us when we were there, but everyone has jumped on it and he's been successful in getting the clickbait.

"He was very particular about what he said, that someone had filmed their training. He said it could have been a supporter. He didn't say New Zealand did it."

Hansen bears Jones no ill will over the comments and revealed the two have since been in touch.

"It's only a mind game if you buy into it. We're not buying into it," said Hansen. "It's allowed us to have a good laugh. I'm chuckling away.

"He’s been in touch with me, but not about spying. I get a text, 'How are you going, Steve?'. 'Pretty good, thanks Eddie.' He's laughing, I'm laughing. You guys are getting what you want because everyone is clicking on the bait."

Jones also claimed that while England can play with freedom in the semi-finals, "the pressure will be chasing [New Zealand] down the street" as they attempt to win the World Cup for a third time in succession.

Hansen replied: "I have talked about pressure since I have been All Blacks coach. Early in our history we probably ran away from it and ... let it chase us down the street.

"These days we acknowledge it's there. We get it every game ... doesn't matter if it's a quarter-final, semi-final or a Test match.

"It would be very naive not to acknowledge [the pressure] to be on both sides."

South Africa have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their Rugby World Cup semi-final against Wales, with Cheslin Kolbe ruled out due to injury.

Livewire wing Kolbe tweaked the ankle injury that kept him out of the pool match against Canada when he returned to the team for the last-eight victory over Japan.

Sbu Noksi has consequently moved into the starting line-up for Sunday's match at Yokohama, the sole change to the 23 selected by Rassie Erasmus.

"It's disappointing not to have Cheslin available as he has been brilliant for us since we first called him up last year," said head coach Erasmus.

"But we really rate Sbu and he will slot straight in. I am as excited to see what he can do as I would be if Chessie were playing. Sbu has been very close to selection as it is."

Nkosi, who has scored eight tries in 10 Test appearances for the Springboks, featured in pool matches against Namibia and Canada, touching down against the latter.

By making no further changes, Erasmus once more has two backs and six forwards on the bench.

 

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Tendai Mtawarira, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn.

Ben Youngs says the "unbelievably special" Tom Curry can go on to become one of England's greatest back-rowers.

Curry has been outstanding in England's run to the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup and the 21-year-old was named man of the match in the quarter-final hammering of Australia last weekend.

England scrum-half Youngs says there is plenty more to come from flanker Curry,  who has forged a formidable back-row pairing with the 23-year-old Sam Underhill.

"Being an older member of the squad, you see these young guys come in and you want them to be successful," said Youngs.

"Tom is an unbelievably special player. He works incredibly hard and nothing seems to faze him. He's in this bubble - and he's just loving every moment of it.

"Things like that are infectious and I'm sure he'll continue to grow and grow as a player. I'm sure he'll go on to be one of the greatest back-rowers England have ever had, I've no doubt.

"Underhill, though he looks a lot older, isn't too old himself. Both those guys, and the energy they bring - I'm just pleased and proud of them."

Youngs said England know they have no margin for error when they attempt to dethrone New Zealand on Saturday, having missed out a victory over the All Blacks last year when Underhill's late try was ruled out as Courtney Lawes was offside.

"[We learned] the importance of how error-free you have to be — and you saw that again at the weekend with Ireland [in the quarter-final] — a couple of Ireland mistakes and they [New Zealand] are down at the other end, scoring off the back of it," the pivot said.

Faf de Klerk has put the boot in on his social media critics as South Africa prepare to try and kick Wales out of the Rugby World Cup on Sunday. 

Scrum-half De Klerk was named man of the match after his starring role in the 26-3 quarter-final victory over tournament hosts Japan. 

That did not stop some Springboks supporters from calling on the playmaker to cut down on putting up the high balls ahead of a last-four showdown with the reigning Six Nations champions. 

De Klerk defended South Africa's tactics, however, pointing out they were effective in putting their opponents on the back foot. 

"We do kick a lot, but we try to read the game and the momentum. So, if you look at last weekend, we did kick a lot in the air, and Japan managed to contain our aerial battle," De Klerk said. 

"But if you look further than that, we managed to get so much territorial gain on them with our defence, with the guys being loaded on that. 

"It was a very positive outcome when we kicked. We did give them possession, but they rarely managed to do anything with it." 

On facing Wales, he added: "It is going to be a different challenge this week. I don't think we are going to have the same threats as that [Japan provided].

"It's all about seeing the space, and I feel our wings have come so far over the last two years. They are really competing well in the air.

"They [Wales] have got very good wingers, so it is going to be a massive battle in the air. We don't always go out with a set plan of me just going up and kicking.

"We do read the game, and I listen a lot to what Handre [Pollard] is telling me."

John Mitchell wished New Zealand good luck if they want to spy on England ahead of the Rugby World Cup semi-final but says it would not give them an advantage.

England head coach Eddie Jones claimed someone was spotted filming England's training session on Tuesday.

Jones said it may have been a Japanese fan seen in an apartment overlooking the pitch, but admitted he used to spy on opponents.

Defence coach Mitchell does not believe the All Blacks would gain anything from seeing how England were preparing for a titanic battle in Yokohama City on Saturday.

"If that is what they want to do, and that is the way they want to prepare, good luck to them," the New Zealander said.

He added: "We just happened to be training where there are apartments above our tiny two-metre fence, so I am not sure about what the use of the tarpaulins are.

"The facilities have been excellent but it's an area where people live and there is the odd red light around. There was one up in the corner, which was a bit suspicious.

"It doesn't really worry me. This game is so dynamic now so I don't see any advantage in spying on a team."

Mitchell revealed spying is not uncommon at the highest level of rugby.

"When I took over the All Blacks in 2001 we had a manager who was highly military and he loved surveying the whole area," he said.

"To me, you can get too involved in it and create an anxiety in your group. There is enough pressure at this level without chasing around some blokes that might be in a building with a camera.

"I was with Sir Clive Woodward when we were going for a Grand Slam against Scotland and we chased somebody from one of the papers around the corner and caught him in a hedge.

"He was pretty unlucky actually but that was when the game was a lot different to what it is now. I've seen coaches spy, I've had other coaches spy. I've had mates spy as well, but I don't see any advantage."

Ross Moriarty feared his Rugby World Cup might be over just 90 seconds after he came on in Wales' quarter-final win over France.

Moriarty was called upon earlier than expected at Oita Stadium on Sunday, replacing the injured Josh Navidi in the first half.

The back-row was soon back on the sideline after being shown a yellow card for catching Gael Fickou with a high tackle.

Moriarty returned to score a decisive late try, having feared referee Jaco Peyper may have ended his tournament and potentially brought Wales' campaign to an end.

"I was just thinking, 'please, please don't be a red'," said Moriarty.

"That was definitely a big moment. I had been on for only 90 seconds and I was thinking to myself, 'if he gives me a red card, this is the end of me'.

"I knew how bad that would be for the team. I've been in that situation before and it's not a nice feeling. I never go into a game intending to do anything that would get me a card or put the team at any risk of not winning.

"It was a mistimed tackle. I closed my eyes and thought he was going to run round me, but he stopped and ducked under me."

He added: "It was nice for me to know I didn't cause any damage. I talked to him [Fickou] after the game and he was absolutely fine. We had a good laugh.

"I knew when I came back on I had to be very, very squeaky clean and make sure I didn't do any more damage to the team and myself.

"But it does stick in your mind. I was thinking, 'Please, no one come near me'. Sometimes people slip up in tackles, players duck and dive. It's a contact sport - it's inevitable sometimes. Fortunately, there were no other incidents in the game."

Michael Cheika believes his successor as Wallabies head coach should "definitely" be Australian.

Australia were dumped out of the Rugby World Cup in a 40-16 quarter-final defeat to England on Saturday.

Cheika brought his five-year stint in charge, which included a run to the World Cup final in 2015, to an end after the defeat.

New Zealand coaches Jamie Joseph and Dave Rennie have been linked with the post but, when touching down after flying back from Japan, Cheika told reporters Rugby Australia should look at home for their next appointment.

"I think definitely we should be pushing for an Australian coach," he said. 

"It's not up to me but I think we should be backing and supporting Australian coaches wherever possible."

Cheika had said before the tournament that he would step down if Australia failed to lift the trophy and he insists there was never a chance he would change his decision.

"We came second last time and I figure [after] four years you've got to come first next time," he added. 

"You can't call it and then change your mind afterwards because that's genuinely what we wanted to do - go there and win."

Skipper Michael Hooper paid tribute to Cheika's contribution on and off the training field.

"Cheik's been amazing, me personally I owe that man a lot," he said. "The passion that he represented us or stood up for us all the time and just generally wanted the best for Australian rugby. 

"Not just for the team, not just for him selfishly being the coach of the team but wanting the best for Australian rugby. 

"After he's long gone, to leave something that's positive, he's always believed in that and I think he will. 

"He's made me a better person, not just a rugby player. So, I've got a lot to thank him for that."

Kieran Read is "100 per cent" fit for New Zealand's Rugby World Cup semi-final against England, insists head coach Steve Hansen.

Influential skipper Read was absent from the All Blacks' training session on Tuesday to spark fears over his availability for the mouth-watering showdown in Yokohama.

However, Hansen says Read was nursing a sore calf that New Zealand did not want to exacerbate in wet conditions.

"There is no issue. You didn't see him train because he was in the gym on the bike," Hansen said. 

"He got a tight calf from the game the other day and we didn't want to put him out on a wet track."

Pressed on if Read will face England, Hansen replied: "Yeah, 100 per cent."

Team-mate Sam Whitelock had a somewhat cheekier retort when asked about Read's absence from training.

"A bit of the banter around the team is that he didn't want to get wet today!" he said. 

"I'm sure he'll be fine. He's a tough man, he just didn't want to get wet."

England coach Eddie Jones described New Zealand as "the greatest team there's ever been in sport" ahead of the last-four meeting.

Hansen, while grateful for the compliment from his long-time friend, feels there may be a bit of kidology at play from a man renowned for a love of mind games.

"That's a really nice statement," Hansen said with a grin. "I'm sure Eddie believes that but he's also being quite kind.

"It's [kidology] a real thing but sometimes you're better not to go there. Eddie is a smart man. He knows me well, I know him." 

Jaco Peyper has not been selected to referee a Rugby World Cup semi-final after a photo emerged of him with Wales fans apparently mocking France's sent-off lock Sebastien Vahaamahina.

The South African, who was overseeing his 50th Test, dismissed Vahaamahina during Wales' incident-packed 20-19 last-eight win over Les Bleus for elbowing Aaron Wainwright.

France coach Jacques Brunel and Wales counterpart Warren Gatland backed the decision but the picture, which was widely circulated on social media, drew criticism and was investigated by World Rugby.

On Tuesday, it was confirmed Welshman Nigel Owens will officiate England versus New Zealand on Saturday, while France's Jerome Garces is the man in the middle for Wales against South Africa a day later.

A World Rugby statement said Peyper has apologised.

"World Rugby can confirm that the match officials selection committee did not consider Jaco Peyper for selection this weekend," the release read.

"Peyper recognises that a picture of him with Wales fans, which appeared on social media after the Wales versus France quarter-final, was inappropriate and he has apologised."

Wales have drafted in Cardiff Blues winger Owen Lane as a squad replacement for back-rower Josh Navidi ahead of the Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa.

Powerhouse Navidi was ruled out after sustaining a hamstring injury in the edgy 20-19 last-eight triumph over France in Oita on Sunday.

With Wales well stocked in the back row, head coach Warren Gatland has opted to bolster his backs.

Centre Jonathan Davies was a late withdrawal against France due to a problematic knee injury, while Hadleigh Parkes has been playing through a broken bone in his hand and a shoulder complaint.

Lane has just one Wales cap to his name, that coming against Ireland in August.

Eddie Jones claimed an England training session was spied on ahead of their blockbuster Rugby World Cup semi-final with New Zealand.

The head coach said the team were aware of someone filming from an apartment close to their Chiba training base, though he did not directly accuse the All Blacks of any underhand tactics.

Jones stated such methods were commonplace in the past but are now redundant such is the information readily available.

"There was definitely someone in the apartment block filming, but it might have been a Japanese fan," he told a media conference.

"We don't care, mate. We knew it from the start, but it doesn't change anything. We love it. It's part of the fun of the World Cup. We have got someone there [at New Zealand's training] now mate!

"I haven't done it since 2001. I used to do it. You just don't need to do it anymore. You can see everything. You can watch everyone's training on YouTube. 

"There's no value in doing that sort of thing – absolutely zero. Everyone knows what everyone does – there are no surprises in world rugby anymore. You just have to be good enough on the day."

England face a daunting task in Yokohama on Saturday against a New Zealand side chasing a third straight World Cup triumph.

Jones, though, believes his side can play without fear against the All Blacks, of who he says "the pressure will be chasing them down the street".

"We get to play one of the greatest teams ever that are shooting for a 'three-peat', which has never been done, so that brings an element of pressure," he added. 

"We don't have any pressure. No one thinks we can win. There are 120 million Japanese people out there whose second team are the All Blacks. 

"So, there's no pressure on us, we've just got to have a great week, enjoy it, relax. Train hard and enjoy this great opportunity we've got, whereas they've got to be thinking about how they're looking for their third World Cup and so that brings some pressure.

"It's our job to take the time and space away so that we put them under pressure. New Zealand talk about walking towards pressure, well this week the pressure is going to be chasing them down the street. That's the reality of it, that's how we're approaching it.

"Pressure is a real thing. The busiest bloke in Tokyo this week will be Gilbert Enoka – the [New Zealand] mental skills coach. 

"They have to deal with all this pressure of winning the World Cup three times and it is potentially the last game for their greatest coach and their greatest captain, and they will be thinking about those things. 

"Those thoughts go through your head. It is always harder to defend a World Cup and they will be thinking about that, therefore there is pressure."

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