Rugby Union: Captain Carling comes in for Catt

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The Independent Online
WILL CARLING, so he assured a curious audience yesterday, will do no more than his captain's duty by leading the midweek team against Western Transvaal in Potchefstroom tomorrow. Mike Catt is injured, Carling filling in; simple as that, writes Steve Bale.

But even so, Carling's vote of confidence was coupled with a regulation reminder that he, no less than the rest, needs to be worthy of Test selection before it happens. 'There is no question-mark about Will Carling but Will would be the first to say everyone has to play himself into the team,' Jack Rowell, the manager, said. If Carling is under no pressure now, he undoubtedly will be if and when Jeremy Guscott is fit next season.

The captain is part of a four- member group of those beaten by Natal introduced to strengthen the second team, the notion that the tour party could be so neatly divided having already been destroyed by the adverse results. Thus Adebayo, Poole and Dallaglio have all been deliberately left idle, while Tony Underwood, Redman and Clarke have to play again.

The suggestion that filtered back to the tourists from London yesterday that the hidden meaning of Carling's playing tomorrow would be that he was out of the Test team caused consternation here. 'It's right I should play; I'm captaining the tour and it's an important game for us,' Carling said.

Potchefstroom is the furthest England go into Afrikanerdom on this tour. The university town is only 35 miles from Ventersdorp, home of the white extremist Eugene Terreblanche, but an inconvenient 100 miles from Pretoria, where England will be situated from today until next Monday. Jonathan Callard, who will join the tour in place of David Pears when England pass through Johannesburg this afternoon, goes straight on to the bench in Potch.

ENGLAND (v Western Transvaal, Potchefstroom, tomorrow): P Hull (Bristol); D Hopley (Wasps), W Carling (Harlequins, capt), S Potter, T Underwood (Leicester); S Barnes (Bath), S Bates (Wasps); G Rowntree (Leicester), G Dawe, J Mallett, N Redman (Bath), M Bayfield (Northampton), D Ryan (Wasps), S Ojomoh, B Clarke (Bath). Replacements: J Callard (Bath), R Underwood (Leicester), D Morris (Orrell), J Leonard, B Moore (Harlequins), T Rodber (Northampton).