New Faces for '94 / Rugby Union: Robinson is open to change: Steve Bale looks forward to some heavyweight moments in the weekend's rugby union

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The Independent Online
SOME DAY surely some coach somewhere will work out a counter- strategy but for now the move towards gigantism in forward play, specifically loose-forward play, seems unstoppable. After Ben Clarke, of England, and Rob Wainwright, of Scotland, now we have Brian Robinson, of Ireland, as a No 8 about to be turned into an open-side flanker.

The idea is that their height and weight make them irresistible forces and immovable objects at the same time. France are going along the same lines with the biggest pack in their history and they are Ireland's first Five Nations opponents at Parc des Princes in a fortnight.

Wales, too, toyed with the idea of moving Emyr Lewis to open side and now all Robinson needs to do is get through tomorrow's Irish trial at Lansdowne Road to make the same transition. The team will be named after the trial, which is likely to confirm that the back line who did not impress - in fact were hardly given the ball - against Romania will be retained en bloc, though the captain, Michael Bradley, is under pressure because of the poor quality of his service to Eric Elwood.

In the forwards the contentious prop, Peter Clohessy, has done the penance of a 10-week suspension for stamping and so great is the joy over this particular repenting sinner that he is certain of an instant recall. This would be hard luck on Gary Halpin, who did rather well against the Romanians while Clohessy was banned.

Robinson's path has been cleared by injuries to Denis McBride and Pat O'Hara. Mick Galwey is one of too many other injured absentees from the trial but he is Robinson's likely successor at No 8, which could in turn mean a first cap at blind side for the abrasive Chris Pim.

This afternoon's domestic programme, thin to the point of emaciation, is led by Gloucester's visit to Moseley, whose former England flanker Mike Teague prefers to be spared the embarrassment of facing his first club (first love?). Teague has asked to be rested in the interests of harmony. 'It's a decision that we understand and accept,' Moseley's playing administrator, Alex Keay, said.

Mike Hamlin, the former Gloucester stand-off who arrived at The Reddings by a circuitous route that took in London Welsh, will face his old club for the first time while Gloucester have included two ex-Moseley men in half-backs Ashley Johnson and Bruce Fenley.