Rugby: Henderson rated as doubtful to face Scotland

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The Independent Online
Rob Henderson, the Wasps centre, is doubtful for Ireland's first Five Nations' Championship match against Scotland at Lansdowne Road next month following his recent groin operation.

"I've spoken to him several times in the past five or six days and he has been updating me," Brian Ashton, the Ireland coach, said. "At this stage it looks like he won't be able to play again before the Scotland game, so he is almost certainly out of the side."

Ashton also cast doubt on the availability of Conor McGuinness, after the scrum-half aggravated an ankle injury in training this week, while Nick Popplewell, is still suffering from a sore hamstring.

Philippe Saint-Andre, Gloucester's French international winger, is facing a further month on the sidelines with a thigh injury. The 29-year-old, recently omitted from France's pre-Five Nations training squad, has already been troubled by the injury for a month.

John Fidler, the Gloucester team manager, said: "He thought that this thing would be right by now, but it has not cleared up."

Saint-Andre's injury will give Brian Johnson an extended run in the first team, starting with Sunday's Allied Dunbar Premiership One derby at Bristol.

Moseley have signed the Western Samoa prop Afa Leau on a full-time contract until the end of the season. Leau, 35, has been capped 20 times by his country and has been playing for the New Zealand provincial side, Counties, alongside Jonah Lomu.

Leau arrived in Birmingham yesterday morning and will be eligible to play in Moseley's Allied Dunbar Premiership Two game at Rotherham on Saturday.

Worcester's rugby director, Les Cusworth, has ordered his side to concentrate on the league after the Jewson League One club's surprise 14-12 victory over Bristol in the Tetley's Bitter Cup on Tuesday night.

Worcester earned a lucrative fifth-round home tie against the Premiership One leaders, Newcastle, by beating a Bristol side two divisions above them.

But Cusworth, the former England backs coach, said: "This season we've said that winning promotion out of Jewson League One was our main aim. We have a vital game against Morley on Saturday and we must now focus on that. We still have a long way to go, but this is a big day for the club and for Worcester as a whole. We'll enjoy this moment, but we've got to look beyond this."

Cusworth's side secured victory through an injury-time penalty from full- back Tim Smith. Bristol had been trailing until just before the final whistle, when Irish international stand-off Paul Burke landed his fourth penalty to give them a narrow lead until Smith struck.

China face a tough debut in this year's Hong Kong Sevens after being drawn in the same section as Western Samoa and Tonga. Fiji, the holders, have been paired with Argentina, Papua New Guinea and Taiwan in Group C for the tournament, which runs from 27 to 29 March.

HONG KONG SEVENS (27-29 March) Pool A: South Africa, Spain, Netherlands, Thailand. Pool B: France, Canada, Zimbabwe, Malaysia. Pool C: Fiji, Argentina, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan. Pool D: Western Samoa, Tonga, Morocco, China. Pool E: New Zealand, South Korea, United States, Singapore. Pool F: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Sri Lanka.

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