Rugby Union: Back is backed by Russ

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The Independent Online
TONY RUSS, the Leicester director of coaching, yesterday fired a broadside at the England selectors, branding the decision to omit Neil Back from the New Year squad session in Lanzarote as 'appalling'.

What drew Russ's ire was the reason for the exclusion of the Tigers open-side flanker. For some time now Peter Winterbottom's heir apparent, the 5ft 10in Back, named player of the tour on last summer's B trip to New Zealand, was deemed too short by the England manager, Geoff Cooke. Bath's Steve Ojomoh, who came in, is 6ft 2in. 'The reason is spurious to say the least,' Russ said. 'Has he suddenly got shorter since New Zealand? It's a disgrace.'

Injuries to the winger Steve Hackney (knee) and the lock Martin Bayfield (shoulder) have forced the Midlands to revamp their side for Saturday's Divisional Championship decider against the South West. Moseley's Steve Lloyd replaces Bayfield while the Leicester centre Ian Bates comes in for Hackney, allowing Northampton's Frank Packman to revert to his customary wing berth.