'Arrested' England physio is paid back

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The Independent Online
Wayne Morton, the England physiotherapist, was arrested, handcuffed, bundled into the back of a windowless police van at Johannesburg airport yesterday. Far from having fallen foul of the authorities, Morton had walked straight into an elaborate revenge 'wind-up'. But for an hour he thought he was facing a night in jail - until the truth emerged.

"I got out of the van after being driven at high speed for 30 minutes and there was every member of the team - laughing at me," Morton said. The stunt had been arranged by one of the South African security officers assigned to protect England during their three-month tour.

"It was a pay-back for something I did to him on his birthday," Morton said. "He had a calf strain and I just decided to massage him with a bit of whitewash. He promised to get even - and I think you can say he's done that.

"The whole thing was very convincing. My baggage was searched at the airport by drug squad officers who said they weren't satisfied that the stuff I was carrying had anything to do with my job as a physio.

"Once inside the van I couldn't see where I was going and it wasn't until I got out I realised they had taken me to the team hotel. The boys had better watch out - particularly assistant manager John Barclay. He was in on it, pretending to make anxious phone calls to the High Commission while I was being led away. I'm planning my next move very carefully"

On a serious note, England have been assured that their safety in South Africa is a top priority but there are no plans for extra security measures as a result of Sunday's fatal shooting during a Cape Town boxing match. Armed robbers killed a cashier while Britain's Warren Stowe was fighting the South African middleweight champion, Simon Maseko.

Johannesburg - where England are now preparing for the second Test - is regarded as one of the world's most dangerous cities. The team has been accompanied by two or three armed guards from the VIP Protection Unit since arriving in South Africa. They will remain on duty but there are no plans to increase their numbers.

Bullets fly in the boxing ring, page 15