Rugby League: Hanley to miss World Cup

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND HAVE suffered their first casualty as the build-up to the Rugby World Cup intensifies. The Sale wing Steve Hanley, who scored a try on his debut against Wales at Wembley last season, has been forced out of contention.

The injury Hanley sustained to his left shoulder on England's short summer tour of Australia has not cleared up, and yesterday England's coach, Clive Woodward, announced: "I share Steve's disappointment. Unfortunately he is still not 100 per cent, therefore he will not figure in our plans for October."

Hanley, 20, who hopes to undergo surgery later this week, was being given a thorough work-out when the shoulder "popped" again. "I was testing the shoulder, but when I stretched my left arm out to try and make a tackle, it just went," Hanley said. "The injury has happened twice now, so maybe I was trying to come back too early. It is a bitter blow for me, but I would rather have the problem sorted out now through surgery.

"It has sunk in that I will be missing the World Cup - all the England lads feel for me - but I've got to concentrate on regaining full fitness. I would hope to be playing again by early December."

There was another potentially more serious pronouncement from the England camp in Yorkshire with the news that all is not well with the Saracens scrum-half Kyran Bracken. He has left the training squad temporarily as a precautionary measure for treatment on his back, but Woodward explained: "We do not anticipate any long-term problems and we expect to see him return to England training very soon."

Back at Sale another England man, centre Barrie-Jon Mather, has been taken off the transfer list, having been put on it just a couple of weeks after he, like Hanley, made his international debut against Wales. Mather said: "I have two years left on my contract and Sale want me to see it out. I feel very happy about that. At one stage it seemed they were getting rid of all their best players. It's been an unsettling time, but I've kept my head down and got on with it."

The Cheshire club have added two signings to their squad as well, swooping for the Leeds Tykes scrum-half Christian Saverimutto and the hooker Joe Clark as well as the former Natal utility forward Guy Manson-Bishop, who played for London Scottish last season.

Northampton yesterday named their dynamic back-row forward Pat Lam, the Western Samoan who joined them from Newcastle Falcons, as their new captain in succession to his Tim Rodber, who has stepped down after five years at the helm.

The club's Australian flanker Don Mackinnon will take over the role while Lam is playing for his country in the World Cup.