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'Prepared to fight': Uruguay to fire 'last bullet' against All Blacks

By AAP
Andres Vilaseca of Uruguay looks on during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between France and Uruguay at Stade Pierre Mauroy on September 14, 2023 in Lille, France. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Facing New Zealand in the final match of their World Cup campaign is the perfect way for Uruguay to round out the tournament, Los Teros’ captain Andres Vilaseca says.

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Uruguay troubled France in their opening 27-12 loss to the tournament hosts, led Italy 17-7 at halftime before going down 38-17, and tasted victory in a 36-26 win over Namibia in Lyon last week.

Centre Vilaseca insisted Uruguay have a plan to take the game to New Zealand, who need a bonus-point win on Thursday to be guaranteed a quarter-final spot, but said the most important element of it was his side’s attitude to the contest.

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“This team is prepared to fight the All Blacks. When we can, where we can. It is our last bullet before our World Cup is over,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“I’ll be happy if Uruguay fights everything and comes out empty.”

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Vilaseca said it was a dream to play New Zealand for the first time in a Test and that Los Teros had something special planned for when they faced the haka before the game.

“I love that they put out the best team possible,” he said.

“For us, it is a unique opportunity and I am happy for the respect they have shown us.”

Coach Esteban Meneses made seven changes to his starting lineup for Thursday’s game at OL Stadium, largely reverting to the side that impressed against France and Italy.

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Meneses dropped two of his try scorers from the Namibia win: Baltazar Amaya scored twice but made way for veteran Rodrigo Silva at fullback, while Gaston Mieres returned on the right wing in place of Bautista Basso.

Meneses also restored Tomas Inciarte to the centres alongside Vilaseca and made two changes to his back row, Manuel Diana returning at No.8 and Lucas Bianchi making his first start of the tournament at openside flanker.

“Everyone who has played has done so in a great way and it was really difficult to remove them to give other players a chance,” Meneses said.

“But it is part of the competition that has been generated in this squad, and that is what has made Uruguay competitive in these three World Cup games.”

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