Almanack: Bitten not bowed

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The Independent Online
BOLTON, the amateur rugby leagueclub run by my colleague Dave Hadfield, have had more than their share of injuries this season, but nothing quite like the one that befell their forward Rick Brookes in a recent match.

Brookes noticed after the fixture that his leg had swollen up to twice itsnormal size. At the local casualty department he was told that he had been bitten. By an insect? By a player? No, there were two puncture marks on the back of his leg which suggested a bite from a grass-snake.

Although grass-snakes are not poisonous, bites canget dirty and cause infection. But there were no volunteers to suck it clean. 'It was a bit high on the thigh for that,' Hadfield says. 'And this isn't rugby union.'

Brookes has made a full recovery and, in fact, is moving better than ever in training, especially when team-mates run behind him and hiss.