Sport in brief: Burrow begins battle to regain England place on Boxing Day

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The Independent Online

Rugby League: Rob Burrow will begin his campaign to win back his England scrum-half spot by captaining Leeds on Boxing Day.

Burrow, England's first-choice No 7 in last year's World Cup, was omitted from this autumn's Four Nations squad, edged out by three younger half-backs in Richie Myler, Sam Tomkins and Kyle Eastmond. "I was disappointed but I've used the time well," Burrow said. "I've had a good break and I was itching to get into the training when it finally came round."

Burrow will lead the Rhinos against Wakefield in the absence of Kevin Sinfield who, like others involved in the Four Nations, is being given extra recovery time. Wakefield will give debuts to two signings, Ben Jeffries and Terry Newton. The club have unveiled plans for a 12,000-capacity stadium next to junction 30 on the M62, not far from Castleford's proposed site.

Dave Hadfield

Northampton handed raw deal in final Heineken Cup fixtures

Rugby Union: If no one in authority was talking at Franklin’s Gardens yesterday, it was because the top brass were too busy grinding their teeth in vexation. The television-driven fixture timings for the last two rounds of Heineken Cup pool matches next month left Northampton in the uncomfortable position of having to play the two-time champions Munster at Thomond Park just five days after hosting the aggressive Catalans of Perpignan.

As the Munster match is likely to decide their future in the tournament, the Midlanders could not have been dealt a worse hand of cards. Northampton have known about the trip to Limerick for months, but they did not knowthe precise date, and they feel that a five-day turnaround should have been avoided. If Jim Mallinder’s fast-improving team make it through, they will deserve to win the whole thing. Chris Hewett