RUGBY UNION Carling wants to play on

RUGBY UNION

BY STEVE BALE

Will Carling yesterday gave Jack Rowell the glad tidings that he wishes to keep his England place after the World Cup, thereby taking a positive step further than when Geoff Cooke was England manager a year ago.

Carling, 29, will lead England for the 48th time - easily a world rugby record - in Saturday's Grand Slam decider against Scotland at Twickenham, and can even see himself continuing in this role after the World Cup.

"I will be available for England selection next season," he said as his team were concluding their training weekend at Twickenham. "I'd like to think I can go on a little longer. After the World Cup, captaincy is in the hands of other people but I still want to play on."

Before England played Scotland last season Carling, still trying to get over the disappoint- ments of 1993 with England and the Lions, sang a different tune: "I'd love to carry on to the World Cup, but there is more and more competition. After that, I find it very doubtful I would carry on as captain. Whether I'd carry on playing I don't know."

Carling has been rejuvenated by England's successful current campaign, his seventh in the captaincy. England trained yesterday without Carling's centre partner, Jeremy Guscott, who spent the weekend on a modelling assignment. Kyran Bracken was willing to train yesterday despite a minor groin strain, but was excused by Rowell.

The Scotland players, all fully fit when they trained on Saturday, will head south on Wednesday. They will stay at the same country hotel used by the All Blacks and Wales before they played and lost at Twickenham last season.

The Ireland open-side flanker, Denis McBride, is very doubtful for the match against Wales. He was driving to yesterday's training session when a severe pain in the back of his right leg prevented him from completing the journey. Disc trouble is suspected. There is also considerable concern in the Irish camp about the fitness of the centre, Jonathan Bell.

Rugby union, page 29

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