BLENHEIM, 11 Sept. - Russia's players can hardly wait for their Pool C match match against USA at New Plymouth’s Stadium Taranaki on Thursday when they will be the last team at Rugby World Cup 2011 to open their campaign.
“Watching the first games of the Rugby World Cup 2011 made me look forward to our match,” said Russian second row Andrey Ostrikov.
“I don’t like it that we are the last to start in the tournament. Anyway, we know that we will have to keep up the high level of play that the other teams have showed so far.”
Ostrikov’s fellow-second row Denis Antonov said the impatience to get started was shared by the whole team.
“I wish we began as soon as possible," he added. "If the game against the States could take place tomorrow I would be really glad.”
Ostrikov, one of the few Russian players with experience of playing abroad after moving to English Premiership side Sale Sharks in June, is looking forward to his team's RWC debut with confidence.
“I am used to playing at big stadiums after five years spent in France," the 24-year-old said. "I understand that international games at the Rugby World Cup are something special but any nervousness we might feel should disappear once we touch the pitch at Taranaki.
“We began to prepare for the opener in New Zealand immediately after qualifying.
“I can’t say if it is really good or bad that we have the lowest-ranked team as the first opponent. Maybe starting against a top seed could be better. In any case we will throw all our energy on the States who are our principal rivals here.”