x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

McAlister in line to play pivot

Stephen Donald, the fly-half who is deputising for the injured Daniel Carter, is a major doubt for New Zealand's Test against Italy on Saturday.

Stephen Donald, the fly-half who is deputising for the injured Daniel Carter, is a major doubt for New Zealand's Test against Italy on Saturday. The Waikato Chiefs' playmaker damaged a hamstring during Saturday's 14-10 win against France in Wellington. Assistant coach Steve Hansen said the fly-half only has a 40 per cent chance of taking to the field at AMI Stadium in Christchurch.

Luke McAlister, who has won 23 caps, will wear the No 10 shirt if the Chiefs pivot is ruled out. There was a better prognosis for lock Ali Williams, who has yet to feature during the series because of an Achilles problem. "It's not a 100 per cent but he's making good progress," said Hansen. "We've got to the stage where the medical staff are happy for him to work through this week and see if we can get him some game-time."

Nick Mallett, the Italy coach, felt his side matched the Australians in the line-outs and the scrums but lacked the cutting edge that enabled the Wallabies to score two late tries through winger Lachie Turner and substitute full-back Adam Ashley Cooper to seal a 34-12 win on Saturday. "Unfortunately, in the last 10 minutes the guys fell of a few tackles and the speed of the game caught up with a few players, but I was actually very proud of their performances over the last two weekends," said Mallet.

Robbie Deans, the Australia coach, was content with his inexperienced side's display as they wrapped up a 2-0 series win. "You always want more don't you, but it was a good effort by a group who don't have a lot of background together," said Deans, whose side play France on Saturday. * With agencies