Quinnell's tour exit disturbs the Lions
Tuesday 10 June 1997
Quinnell aggravated a long-standing muscle condition during the defeat by Northern Transvaal in Pretoria on Saturday and although he completed the game, he was quickly ruled out of further participation by James Robson, the tour doctor, after an emergency consultation on Sunday. "I'm devastated," he said yesterday. "I've worked so hard for this. Now all I can do is go home and watch the series on television."
Although Cotton diplomatically avoided saying as much, Quinnell was a racing certainty for the No 8 berth in the opening Test against the Springboks on Saturday week and his absence deprives the Lions of their most effective ball-carrying forward. The Welshman had also looked sharper and more committed than usual in defence - indeed, he was the Lions' busiest and most accomplished performer against Eastern Province in Port Elizabeth just over a fortnight ago - and the tourists know they have lost one of their most influential figures.
Cotton and his colleagues were not deciding on a replacement until late last night, presumably delaying their deliberations until the England side touched down at Heathrow following their squared Test series in Argentina. Two obvious contenders, Ben Clarke - a Lion in more than one sense of the word in New Zealand four years ago - and Tony Diprose both played against the Pumas last weekend and are considered to be in very sharp form indeed.
However, Quinnell's misfortune carries even more relevance for Eric Miller and Tim Rodber, the respective No 8s of Ireland and England and now direct rivals for a treasured Test cap in Cape Town on 21 June. Miller was seriously downcast after the defeat at Loftus Versfeld - a game in which he was played out of position on the open-side flank - but he will now have an opportunity, probably against Natal on Saturday, to bring his undoubted dynamism to bear in his favoured position. Rodber, meanwhile, captains the side against Gauteng, formerly known as Transvaal, in Johannesburg tomorrow night.
Ian McGeechan, the coach, agreed yesterday that some players might play in both of this week's matches against powerful Super 12 provinces. That should encourage Tom Smith and Paul Wallace, the two ball-handling Celtic props, who came to South Africa as rank outsiders for the Tests but, thanks to their exceptional mobility, are making rather more of an impact than some of their strong-arm colleagues.
Tony Underwood plays his third successive game on the left wing, Mike Catt gets his first start at outside-half and Nigel Redman, the 32-year- old Bath lock who, rumour has it, once played alongside William Webb Ellis, makes perhaps the most popular Lions debut of them all. "I never thought it would happen to me," said Redman, who was called in from Buenos Aires when Weir picked up his serious knee injury in Witbank six days ago. "My wife burst into tears when I told her I'd been summoned. They were definitely tears of joy; after all, she won't be seeing me for another month now " A welcome shaft of humour on a dark day
LIONS (v Gauteng, Johannesburg, tomorrow): N Beal (Northampton and England); J Bentley (Newcastle and England), A Bateman (Richmond and Wales), W Greenwood (Leicester), T Underwood (Newcastle and England); M Catt (Bath and England), A Healey (Leicester and England); T Smith (Watsonians and Scotland), B Williams (Richmond and Wales), P Wallace (Saracens and Ireland), N Redman (Bath and England), J Davidson (London Irish and Ireland), R Wainwright (Watsonians and Scotland), T Rodber (Northampton and England, capt), N Back (Leicester and England). Replacements: J Guscott (Bath and England), N Jenkins (Pontypridd and Wales), M Dawson (Northampton and England), K Wood (Harlequins and Ireland), D Young (Cardiff and Wales), E Miller (Leicester and Ireland).
Latest in Sport
- 1 Should Apple buy Greece?
- 2 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 3 Drummer Lee Rigby's family reject 'extremist' groups using Woolwich murder for political gain
- 4 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 5 Fox News anchor asks 'what's to prevent' three people from marrying after same-sex marriage legalised
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...
£18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...
£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...