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Henry monitoring form and fitness

NZPA     26 Sep 2007    

"The Romanian game is important for the guys who are playing in that game, it's important for their selections for the future," Henry said.

"There are a lot of people contesting for positions in the teams to be selected for the future for this tournament, which is great.

"We're not looking further ahead than the Romanian game as a team."

Henry said the coaches were "doing some work" analysing likely quarterfinal opponents but that was an ongoing process.

That would not detract from the preparation for Romania, which doesn't begin until Thursday.

Henry did not think just two days of preparation would impact on performance at Stade Municipal.

"We have been playing a similar game plan through the qualifying games so they (players) have been working on that game plan for the last three weeks.

"So it's not as if they'll go in underdone. They'll know what to do."

A fourth easy pool win looms and Henry is likely to respond by wrapping most of his quarterfinal candidates in cotton wool.

Most of those who played in the thrashing of Portugal nearly two weeks ago are likely to dominate the starting lineup although there could be exceptions.

One of those may be star first five-eighth Daniel Carter, who has stated a desire to play this week to get him up to speed for the big games.

He wasn't at his sharpest against Scotland and missed five kicks at goal so a confidence boost could be timely.

Also, his inclusion would alleviate a shortage at fullback, with Nick Evans potentially used there rather than Mils Muliaina or Leon MacDonald, who are both recovering from knocks this week.

Another who may back up from Scotland in search of a strong performance is winger Sitiveni Sivivatu, who had an uncharacteristic game. He may push Joe Rokocoko to the right wing and create a duel between the cousins for the quarterfinal wing berth alongside Doug Howlett.

The selectors may be anxious to give youngster Isaia Toeava his first start of the tournament at centre.

In the forwards there will be huge interest in the return of lock Keith Robinson, presuming he comes through this week with no more grief from his calf strain.

He could pack down next to Chris Jack, ending a run of three starts for Ali Williams.

Second-choice front rows and loose forward combinations are likely, with Reuben Thorne potentially leading the side from the blindside flank and flanker Chris Masoe continuing a busy tournament.

Flanker Jerry Collins and hooker Keven Mealamu -- who missed out on the 22 for Scotland -- may well receive decent workouts off the bench.

Possible starting 15: Nick Evans, Joe Rokocoko, Isaia Toeava, Aaron Mauger, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Daniel Carter, Brendon Leonard, Sione Lauaki, Chris Masoe, Reuben Thorne (captain), Chris Jack, Keith Robinson, Greg Somerville, Andrew Hore, Neemia Tialata.