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Kiwis rue Cup loss of Muliaina and Slade

Injured New Zealand backs Colin Slade and Mils Muliaina have been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks have called up Bath’s new recruit Stephen Donald and wing Hosea Gear.

Slade, who had become first choice fly-half after the side lost Dan Carter, suffered a groin injury tear in yesterday’s 33-10 quarter-final win over Argentina.

Muliaina fractured his shoulder and failed to re-appear at half-time in what was his 100th – and now last – Test appearance for the All Blacks.

New Zealand coach Graham Henry said: “It’s disappointing to have tournament-ending injuries.

“Hosea and Stephen will join the team. That’s the reality of the situation.”

The All Blacks campaign has been beset by setbacks, with star fly-half Carter ruled out with a groin problem and captain Richie McCaw playing through a foot injury.

Satisfaction

Henry tonight expressed satisfaction on reaching the Rugby World Cup semi-finals following an unconvincing win over Argentina in Auckland.

Tries from Kieran Read and Brad Thorn, seven Piri Weepu penalties and an Aaron Cruden conversion earned the All Blacks the win which set up a last-four clash with Bledisloe Cup rivals Australia.

But the scoreline was not a true reflection of the game as New Zealand struggled to break down the resilient Pumas, who scored through Julio Farias’ converted try and a Marcelo Bosch penalty.

The Kiwis began the tournament as favourites to end a 24-year wait for Cup glory, but the Wallabies, Wales and France will have seen little to fear.

Four years ago, New Zealand were upset in the last eight by France, but now they are in the last four and within 80 minutes of a place in the World Cup |final on home soil.

Asked if he was happy with the performance, Henry said: “Very happy. I’ve never been to a semi-final before. It’s amazing.

“I was pleased with the game. It was a tough old game of football and I thought both sides played particularly well.

“I was pleased with the composure of our fellas. They were under a lot of pressure at times and kept their heads.

“Quarter-finals are always tough games. I’m sure we’ll be better for that particular game.”