England turn down Robinson loan appeal

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The Independent Online

England have rejected any idea of trying to borrow Jason Robinson to cover the gap in their squad left by the loss of Leon Pryce, the young Bradford winger who dislocated his shoulder for the second time this season in the runaway 76-4 World Cup victory over Russia on Wednesday night.

England have rejected any idea of trying to borrow Jason Robinson to cover the gap in their squad left by the loss of Leon Pryce, the young Bradford winger who dislocated his shoulder for the second time this season in the runaway 76-4 World Cup victory over Russia on Wednesday night.

Although the English management are waiting for the results of a scan, Pryce is almost certainly ruled out for the remainder of the tournament, which has led to hopeful suggestions that Robinson could be loaned back from rugby union just a couple of weeks after joining Sale from Wigan.

"We asked about borrowing him on a match-by-match basis before the tournament," admitted the England team manager, David Howes. "They said they hadn't invested three quarters of a million to loan him out and I'm sure the answer would be the same again."

The England coach, John Kear, says he has not given any thought to the question of a replacement for Pryce. With Darren Rogers already called up, the other winger on England's original list of reserves was Paul Sterling, who is not only now playing for Wales but has also just won a ruling of "unconscious racial discrimination" against the Leeds club for whom he plays and at which Howes is managing director.

The likeliest alternative could be another Leeds player, Karl Pratt, but England could decide to struggle on with dwindling back-line resources. They have one more group game, against Fiji at Headingley tomorrow, to get it right before the start of the serious business of sudden-death rugby.

However, the Pryce injury marred England's 14-try rout of the Russians, which topped the previous highest score of 73-6 against France four years ago and sets up a probable quarter-final with Ireland at Headingley.

Ireland are battling to have Tommy Martyn fit for the match against the New Zealand Maori tomorrow that will decide whether they meet England in the last eight. The St Helens stand-off suffered two heavy knocks to his back and hip in the 18-6 win over Scotland in Dublin on Wednesday in a game that left Ireland leading their group.

However, they could still need to beat the Maori side to be sure of qualifying for the next stage and cannot afford the luxury of resting Martyn or the Castleford centre Michael Eagar, who has a hamstring strain.

"It's painful at the moment, but I'll be having intensive rehab to try to get it right," said Martyn, whose ability to produce the unorthodox could be vital to the Irish as they try to complete their objectives in their group matches.

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