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." 

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."

Chris Silverwood has no doubt England have recovered from their Cricket World Cup and Ashes exertions and are raring to go ahead of their tour of New Zealand.

England touched down in Christchurch on Tuesday for a five-game Twenty20 series and two Tests against the Black Caps, Silverwood's first assignment since taking over as head coach from Trevor Bayliss.

New Zealand lost a thrilling World Cup final to England on boundary count-back in July, while Bayliss signed off in September with a 2-2 draw in the Ashes that saw Australia retain the urn.

Silverwood does not expect his team to laud their World Cup success over the hosts and indicated they are ready for another challenge.

"I don't think it's been difficult getting them refreshed. We had a great summer but the adventure is lying ahead and to come back here and play cricket again we're very excited," he said.

"One or two are having a little break but its business as usual. Obviously, [T20 captain] Eoin Morgan has a strong hold on what he wants to do with the team and it's my job to back him and help him put things in place.

"I'm sure there'll be a few conversations [about the World Cup final], but we're here to concentrate on the series in front of us, which is always hard fought when we come out to New Zealand with two very good teams."

T20 batting legend Chris Gayle might have priced himself out of the inaugural Hundred Draft held on Sunday.

The Rugby World Cup semi-finals will feature the top four teams in world rugby after the rankings were updated following the quarter-finals.

England and South Africa, courtesy of their convincing wins over Australia and hosts Japan respectively, both climbed one place.

Eddie Jones' side moved above Wales into second, behind defending world champions New Zealand - who England face on Saturday - and the Springboks leapfrogged Ireland.

Six Nations champions Wales beat France 20-19, though even a larger margin of victory would not have kept them from dropping down to third.

Japan had risen to their highest ever ranking after Australia's defeat to England, but the Wallabies moved back into sixth after the Brave Blossoms' loss to South Africa.

France are seventh, with Japan eighth, ahead of Scotland and Argentina, who complete the top 10.

Despite their exit at the hands of South Africa, Japan have won over many fans at the World Cup, with coach Jamie Joseph believing his side are well on their way to becoming a top-five team.

"The team has worked incredibly hard for three years, and this year we worked harder than we've worked ever before," Joseph told a news conference.

"That's put us in a really good position to strive for our goals, which is making the top five in the world."

England expect Jonny May and Jack Nowell to be fit for their Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, according to assistant coach Neal Hatley.

May scored two tries in England's dominant 40-16 victory over Australia on Saturday, helping Eddie Jones' side set up a last-four tie with the All Blacks, who thrashed Ireland.

However, England had cause for concern over May when the wing suffered a hamstring injury, while Nowell has also been dealing with a similar problem.

But Hatley has revealed both players are expected to be available for selection for Saturday's contest in Yokohama.

"It's fantastic where we are, all 31 being available for selection at the end of the week," said Hatley in a news conference.

"Jonny's bouncing around this morning. He has a small twinge and we'll assess where he is a little bit later today.

"He's in really good spirits, moving well, and we expect Jack to be fit for selection as well."

England last met reigning world champions New Zealand at Twickenham in November 2018, with the All Blacks edging out a 16-15 victory. Hatley, though, insists neither side should read too much into that previous meeting.

"I think the goal for us is to get better every day. I think we've improved, but they've improved as well. I don't think we can take a lot from what happened in Autumn," he added.

"You know, they were missing a few, we were missing a few, and I think both sides have improved since then, it's a whole different situation.

"We've got certain things that we'll l want to do in that first 15, 20 minutes and we need to focus on what we do right, then hopefully we'll replicate the same start."

Jones, meanwhile, lauded the current New Zealand side as the "greatest team" of all time - and not just in rugby union, either.

"We are playing the greatest team there has ever been in sport," he told reporters. "If you look at their record, I don't think there's a team that comes close to them for sustainability.

"Name me another team in the world that plays at the absolute top level that wins 90 per cent of their games.

"Now, talent doesn't matter. When you get to this stage of the tournament, it's about how strong the team is. The reason I took this job is because I saw a team that could be great and that was the challenge and they are starting to believe it."

Australia head coach Michael Cheika has stepped down following the Wallabies' Rugby World Cup exit in Japan.

Cheika confirmed he will not seek re-appointment after Australia were routed 40-16 by England in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

The 52-year-old, who guided the Wallabies to the 2015 World Cup final as he was named World Rugby Coach of the Year, bristled at questions over his future in the immediate aftermath of Australia's elimination.

However, former Waratahs boss Cheika quit on Sunday – ending his five-year stint in charge of Australia.

"It is no secret I have no relationship with the CEO [Raelene Castle] and not much with the chairman [Cameron Clyne]," Cheika was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald.

Cheika replaced Ewen McKenzie in 2014 and he made an immediate impact as the Wallabies reached the 2015 World Cup final – beaten by New Zealand.

That run to the decider saw Cheika become the first Australia coach to claim World Rugby's top coaching award since Rod Macqueen in 2001.

But the Wallabies' performances slowly regressed and pressure mounted on heading into this year's World Cup.

In a statement released by Rugby Australia, Cheika said: "I got asked the question in the press conference about what's going to happen going forward and at the time I wasn't keen to answer, but I always knew the answer in my head.

"I just wanted to speak to my wife and tell a few people up there [on the Rugby Australia board] about it.

"I put my chips in earlier in the year - I told people no win, no play.

"So, I'm the type of man who always goes to back what he says and I knew from the final whistle, but I just wanted to give it that little bit time to cool down, talk to my people and then make it clear."

New Zealander Dave Rennie – who is in charge of Glasgow Warriors having previously led the Chiefs to two Super Rugby titles – is the favourite to replace Cheika.

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika insisted he would rather win playing the Australia way or no way after the country's Rugby World Cup elimination.

Australia crashed out of the World Cup quarter-finals following a 40-16 drubbing at the hands of rivals England in Oita on Saturday.

Despite a bright start, the Wallabies were no match for Eddie Jones' England as Cheika's tactics were brought into question in the aftermath.

Australia adopted a ball-in-hand approach during the tournament in Japan and Cheika was in a defiant mood amid doubts over his future.

"Listen, that's the way we play footy, I'm not going to go to a kick-and-defend game. Call me naive but that's not what I'm going to do," Cheika said.

"I'd rather win it our way or no way. That's the way Aussies want us to play."

Cheika, who led Australia to the 2015 World Cup final, added: "We scored some good tries, we were fit and as tends to happen to us sometimes, over the last few years and sometimes we encounter intercepts.

"Dropped ball, if I look back [at] the Fiji game, dropped ball … length of the field. The Wales game, intercepts. Intercepts again [here]. 

"That's definitely an issue we have to work on, how to close that part of the game down. Because if you put all those intercepts together and it went close to costing us one game, if not two. 

"I am really happy with the way the team played. Obviously we could have played better, no doubt. But just mastering those types of moments is the next step for the team, going forward for the next few years."

England boss Eddie Jones offered no sympathy to Australia after his team swamped the Wallabies at the Rugby World Cup.

A thumping 40-16 victory in Oita carried England through to the semi-finals, with Australian Jones the unabashed architect.

As his counterpart Michael Cheika just about held back tears, telling one journalist to show some "compassion" when raising the question of his future, Jones was jubilant after his own team's performance.

But when it came to sympathising with his former Randwick team-mate, there was nothing going.

"Look, it's tough when you lose a game, particularly at this level of a World Cup," Jones said in a post-match news conference.

"At this moment, not a lot of sympathy, no, because I'm enjoying the win and I think I'm allowed to enjoy the win.

"Maybe later in the week I might, so ask me that later in the week."

England will be deep in preparation for their semi-final task by then, and the impressive performance in their first match of the knock-out stage will count for very little.

They must not merely reprise the display that ripped Cheika's side apart but take it to the next level, Jones said.

"We just want to keep challenging ourselves. We haven't played at our best yet," Jones said.

"The challenge is: how do we get better next week?"

He said England would expect "probably the toughest game of the tournament" next and predicted a "twinge" that led two-try Jonny May to come off late in the Australia game will not keep him sidelined.

Jones described Kyle Sinckler as "like a runaway rhino" after his charge to the line for England's third try, and said George Ford was "absolutely spectacular" after coming off the bench in the second half, having been surprisingly left out of the starting line-up.

England's coach was wary, though, of placing the team on too high a pedestal, even when touching on a favourite pet topic of samurai warriors.

"It's a do-or-die game today. Everyone understands that, and the best samurais were always guys who had a plan but could adapt, who had a calm head, but they were full of aggression," Jones said.

"I thought we were pretty much like that today.

"The challenge is always how we get better, because there's always a better samurai around the corner, so we have to get better."

Michael Cheika urged a reporter to show "compassion" as he objected to being asked whether he intends to step down as Australia's head coach following their Rugby World Cup exit.

Cheika's contract is set to expire and he is widely expected to leave his position, having previously said he would not seek reappointment if the Wallabies did not win the tournament.

However, in a tense news conference after a 40-16 quarter-final loss to England in Oita, the 52-year-old took exception to being asked if he was considering his role.

"It's a cruel, cruel world nowadays when you're asking those questions two minutes after we've been knocked out of the World Cup," said a dejected Cheika.

"If you'd find it inside you to find a little bit of compassion for people who are hurting and just ask a more relevant question [that would be appreciated], because I came here with only one thought in my mind, about winning here. That thought has just disappeared now, not 15-20 minutes ago.

"I know that's what the papers demand, but perhaps, whatever your news outlet is, you should think about people's feelings."

Cheika's future was not raised again until the final question of the news conference. A journalist, who began his enquiry by saying he "appreciated the timeframe", reminded Cheika of his pre-tournament comments about standing aside if Australia did not triumph, asking if that was still his intention.

That query was also rebuffed by Cheika, who swiftly responded: "If you appreciate the timeframe, why ask the question?

He added: "When the time comes, I'll tell 'em [Rugby Australia].

"They don't need to know today - it's not going to kill 'em."

Eddie Jones insists England are still capable of improvement despite earning an impressive 40-16 win over Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

England will face New Zealand or Ireland in the last four next weekend after they scored four tries to the Wallabies' one in Oita on Saturday.

Head coach Jones recognised Australia had made the stronger start to the encounter but was impressed with how his players came through.

"The good news for us is we can still improve," he said after the match. "We weren't absolutely at our best. Australia started the game fast, played superbly for the first 20 and we had to hang in there.

"We hung in there, got a bit of momentum back and got the points when we needed. I'm so pleased for the players, they have worked hard to get this result. What a great crowd, fantastic.

"We are happy to play anyone now but obviously I've got a soft spot for New Zealand. I'd love to play New Zealand in the semi-final, it would be a great challenge for us, we'd be looking forward to it."

Jonny May scored two tries in the space of four first-half minutes, while Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson dotted down after England went into the interval with a 17-9 lead.

"Scott Wisemantel has done a great job with getting more options in our attack," added Jones.

"Maybe at the start of the four years here we were a little bit too one dimensional but now we have more options, he's done a great job in that area."

Captain Owen Farrell, who contributed 20 points off the tee, also praised Australia for the way they approached the game.

He said: "I thought Australia made that a brilliant game. They attacked throughout, from minute one to 80.

"Our boys did well in defence and then managed to get some field position off the back of it. We know that when we get some field position we can be pretty dangerous.

"My kicking was a lot better than last time!"

On England's second-half approach, as the forwards and kicking game played more of a role to tighten the match up, Farrell added: "We did what was needed.

"We had the lead and obviously Australia were throwing everything at us again. We wanted to play the game at our pace, not theirs, and thankfully we did that in the second half.

"The support has been brilliant. It's a massive privilege to play for England and hopefully you see that when we play. It's brilliant to have them behind us."

Thank goodness that's over, and Michael Cheika can get back to just being a "good old mate" of Eddie Jones again.

How it must have pained the old scrum colleagues from their Randwick days to be jostling against each other at a Rugby World Cup.

From being on the same side, dressing-room besties in the 1980s, to being sworn enemies at least for a week. It can't be good for anybody's health.

It sure as hell looked like being a grim state of affairs for Cheika, who whenever the television cameras honed in on him in the stands at Oita Stadium, looked to be living out a personal nightmare.

A thump of the desk here, a look of desperation there. Surely he'll be on his way to pastures new once the dust settles on this thumping 40-16 England victory over Australia.

He dramatically called for "compassion" from a journalist after the match, when asked if he would be moving on.

But the Wallabies are going home. They have lost seven straight games to England. Cheika's contract is up. You do the maths.

"I was supposed to get this done for the people here and for Australians. I'm so disappointed," Cheika said, seemingly close to tears.

Cheika clobbered the table in front of him early in the game after Australia gave away a scrum inside their own 22, and five minutes later his team were two tries behind, the estimable Jonny May marking his 50th cap with a double.

As Brexit debating went into overdrive in the UK Parliament, England certainly needed no left-wing amendment. They were happy, too, for this particular May to crack on with getting a deal done.

The Leicester flyer dashed in by the corner flag both times, firstly from close range after a patient build-up and on the second occasion when David Pocock handed over possession and Henry Slade charged from midfield before kicking through for England's bolting number 11 to gather.

Australia had an 11 who could dash for the line too, and when Marika Koroibete took advantage of tremendous work from Reece Hodge and Jordan Petaia to bound down the left for a try that Christian Lealiifano converted, it was a one-point game early in the second half. Hope for Cheika and his men, but not for long.

Prop Kyle Sinckler exploited a gap in Australia's defence to trundle through for a swift riposte, and Australia were then booted out of the game by the outstanding kicking game of England captain Owen Farrell. Anthony Watson piled on the agony with another try. Mercifully the TV cameras allowed Cheika to wallow in private grief this time.

With Jones and Cheika, there was a sense of soap-opera histrionics about their pre-match sparring, the possibility that this apparent long-standing great friendship - Jones described Cheika as "my good old mate" ahead of this game - may not be quite all it was cracked up to be.

Australians have made a roaring trade from exporting soap operas for global consumption, of course, and it was no great stretch to imagine Jones and Cheika squabbling over day-to-day mundanities in, say, the long-running Neighbours saga.

Mulish to a fault, you could equate them to that garrulous hepcat Lou Carpenter and Salvation Army field marshal Harold Bishop, long-time "good old mates" whose own friendship was put under intense pressure by another rivalry for the ages.

Just as Carpenter and Bishop fought tooth, nail and tuba solo for the affections of Madge Ramsey, so there was one thing standing between Jones and Cheika’s old pals' act on Saturday: it was a day to go hard or go home.

Erstwhile team-mates, Cheika had a beef this week about Jones bringing Aussie Ricky Stuart into the England camp over the past week. Why, Cheika seemed to question, are so many leading Australian coaches working with England teams, whether in rugby, cricket, indeed anywhere across the sporting spectrum?

The swaggering, wily Jones had struck another blow at the heart of Australia. Cheika was rattled by the master wind-up merchant, ensnared by another supremely executed trap.

The irony amid Australian post-match hand-wringing is that Jones is fancied in some quarters to take over from Cheika for what would be a second stint with the Wallabies. He was described as "the obvious solution" - as well as an "arch little pinprick" - in a Sydney Morning Herald editorial on Saturday morning.

Jones has often said he fancies retiring to Barbados once his time with England is up, yet he said the same during his Japan tenure.

The reality is that he lives for days such as this.

Australia need the sort of rebuilding job England faced after the last World Cup. They have lost to England and Wales, where four years ago hosts England were beaten by Australia and Wales.

Whether Australia could tempt 59-year-old Jones again is a different question. They need him surely more than he needs them.

With a Cheshire cat grin for the cameras and a brief pat on the back for Cheika, Jones is all about England for now as he turns his focus to Yokohama and a semi-final next Saturday, another coach and another team in his sights.

A disconsolate Michael Cheika hailed his Australia players as "a credit to their country" after the Wallabies were dumped out of the Rugby World Cup at the quarter-final stage by England.

Despite starting superbly in Oita, the 1991 and 1999 world champions were ultimately thumped 40-16 as England defended superbly before pulling clear in the second half.

Australia head coach Cheika is widely expected to leave his role, having failed to oversee a repeat of the team's run to the final in 2015.

The 52-year-old cut a distraught figure in his immediate post-match interview, but he made a point of highlighting his team's commitment to the cause.

"I think the lads put everything they had into it today," said Cheika. "I want all the Aussies at home and over here to know that. They gave it everything; they put their bodies on the line.

"We made a few mistakes at different times, but they've given everything, these lads ... and they're a credit to their country."

Australia had more possession throughout Saturday's contest but could only manage one try, through Marika Koroibete, while England crossed four times courtesy of Jonny May (2), Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson.

"I thought we actually played quite well, especially the first 50-60 [minutes]," Cheika reasoned.

"We gave away two intercepts and they [England] defended well like you've got to, so the better team won.

"That's the way it is, you've got to suck that up sometimes. I was supposed to get this done for the people here and for Australians. I'm so disappointed."

Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper added: "We're really upset. We emptied everything into this and we didn't get it done, which is pretty gutting for a lot of reasons.

"Firstly, there's a lot of our guys who are leaving. Secondly, we had a great supporter base over here to push us along and we really felt it along the way. To not be able to do it for them and ourselves is pretty gutting."

Jonny May marked his 50th Test appearance with two tries as England gained Rugby World Cup revenge over Australia, reaching the semi-finals with an emphatic 40-16 win in Oita.

May crossed twice in the space of four first-half minutes to give England, who were humiliatingly eliminated on home soil four years ago courtesy of a pool-stage defeat to the Wallabies, a lead they never relinquished.

Australia were ultimately well beaten in what appears likely to be Michael Cheika's final game in charge, Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson also crossing in the second half as England, for whom Tom Curry was outstanding, thundered clear.

Eddie Jones' men have now won seven successive Tests against Australia since that painful 2015 defeat and will face defending champions New Zealand or Ireland in the last four.

The Wallabies had more of the ball throughout the contest, yet England were much more clinical as they showed no signs of rust in their first game for a fortnight, the 2003 champions' final pool game against France having been cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Teenage back Jordan Petaia - a bold selection from Cheika at outside centre - was prominent in a superb start for the underdogs, but the Wallabies' early dominance only yielded three points from Christian Lealiifano.

Having been initially pegged back by Australia's direct running and impressive ruck speed, England dramatically seized the initiative through May.

The Leicester wing's first score was a straightforward one as he accepted Curry's delayed pass to go over in the left corner, after Manu Tuilagi had played a key role in marching England forward.

A more eye-catching try quickly followed when Henry Slade intercepted a loose pass from David Pocock. Slade did not have the legs to reach the line, but he kicked ahead for May, who gathered calmly and outpaced Samu Kerevi to dot down again.

Owen Farrell, playing at fly-half for the first time in the tournament, twice converted from the left touchline and added a simple penalty in between two three-pointers from Lealiifano, ensuring England led 17-9 at the interval.

Australia briefly reduced their deficit to a solitary point as Marika Koroibete streaked over from Petaia's inside pass, only for England to respond immediately, Farrell's flat cut-out pass laying on a try for Sinckler.

England never looked back thereafter and skipper Farrell kicked three further penalties before Watson's 76th-minute interception try rubbed salt in Australia's wounds.

Krasimir Balakov has resigned as head coach of Bulgaria four days on from the 6-0 Euro 2020 qualifying loss to England that was marred by racist abuse.

The Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) confirmed Balakov's departure following a meeting of its executive committee on Friday.

In a statement, the BFU attributed the 53-year-old's resignation to substandard performances.

Bulgaria succumbed to a heavy defeat against the Three Lions in Sofia but not before their supporters subjected England players to racist chants, which forced the match to twice be halted in the first half.

"The performance of Bulgaria's men's national team in recent months has been described as unsatisfactory, which is why the national coach Krasimir Balakov resigned, which was accepted by the members of the [executive committee]," the BFU's statement read.

Balakov initially said he did not hear the abuse directed at England's players at Vasil Levski National Stadium but later apologised to Gareth Southgate's squad and condemned the behaviour of the fans responsible.

"I would like to say very clearly: since there were cases of racial discrimination in Sofia, I would like to sincerely apologise to the English footballers and to all those who felt offended," Balakov wrote in a letter posted to his official Facebook page.

Balakov's decision to quit after five months in charge follows that of BFU president Borislav Mihaylov, who was urged to stand down by Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov.

The organisation's former vice-president Mikhail Kasabov has been temporarily installed as Mihaylov's replacement after two others rejected the opportunity, with an extraordinary congress to elect a new board on the agenda.

The BFU is facing disciplinary proceedings from UEFA in response to the ugly scenes at Monday's match, during which several supporters appeared to perform Nazi salutes.

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