Grayson's desperate throw of the dice against Border in East London last Wednesday effectively sealed his fate. ``Paul tweaked the muscle in training on Tuesday, but told no one because he genuinely felt it would not trouble him during the game,'' said Fran Cotton, the Lions manager, yesterday. ``I don't blame him for that... Paul badly wanted to play for the Lions.''
Sadly for Grayson, the Border match went ahead in something approaching a swamp, exposing his lack of fitness. When he failed to complete a sprint session in training the following day, the writing was on the wall.
``It's like winning something and then losing it,'' said the Northampton goal kicker, the intense frustration etched into his voice. ``When I am on the plane back to Heathrow, I'll realise that I am missing something very major indeed. When I felt the muscle pull last Tuesday, I put it down to fatigue: to my mind, I was fit enough to last a game.''
For Catt, the opportunity to prove Cotton and his fellow selectors wrong will be too good to miss. The versatile South African-born midfielder was perhaps the most unfortunate of Cotton's original omissions, as his exceptional form with England in Argentina recently has demonstrated all to clearly. On Saturday night, Catt contributed 16 points, including a try, to his country's 46-20 triumph over the Pumas in Buenos Aires.
He may yet be joined in South Africa by his clubmate, Adedayo Adebayo. The Lions have a concern over Nick Beal, the Northampton wing, who is struggling to shake off both tendonitis in his knee and a severe attack of shin splints. Adebayo, who scored two tries in the international with Argentina, was second only to Catt on the bad luck front when the initial Lions party was named in April.
There are problems for the Springboks, too, although Carel du Plessis, the national coach, has to deal with a serious attitude problem rather than a physical one. James Small, the experienced South African wing, was so far off beam when he turned out for Western Province against the Lions in Cape Town on Saturday that du Plessis is considering ditching him from his squad.
Bentley scored two tries in the Lions' 38-21 win, a fact that displeased Small to such a degree that he refused to shake hands at the final whistle.
England beat Argentina,
page 15Reuse content