Rugby Union: Carling's responsibility to maintain momentum

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The Independent Online
WITH the tour in its final week, the Lions know who their friends are - and they are evidently not to be found on the committee of home unions. To have agreed to play New Zealand's champion province, Waikato, in the midweek between the second and third Tests was carrying compliance too far, writes Steve Bale.

The England captain, Will Carling, will lead the Lions in Hamilton tomorrow, and tough though it will be it does provide a chance for redemption after the midweekers' Hawke's Bay humiliation. 'As a squad, we

definitely need a strong performance by the midweek team to maintain the morale we built up in the Test,' Brian Moore, the Test hooker, said.

As for the home unions, the Lions are ostracising the committee's secretary, Bob Weighill, over the ill-considered and insensitive refusal to allow Wade Dooley to return and finish his career here after going home for his father's funeral. Weighill probably wishes he had never come and Ian McGeechan, the coach, has been fined NZdollars 50 ( pounds 20) by the players' court after being spotted talking to him.

And now come Waikato, who had no one in the New Zealand team beaten by the Lions on Saturday but in any case are collectively rather than individually renowned. They clearly deserved a Saturday fixture against the Lions' best but in between Tests the tourists have no alternative but to field the second string who subsided to last Tuesday's supine defeat by Hawke's Bay.

The one exception is Paul Burnell for Jason Leonard at tight-head prop, thereby completing an all-Scottish front five whose self-esteem demands better than occurred in Napier. Dewi Morris will be on the bench despite carrying a knee injury from the Test - a case of needs must at this stage of the tour.

'This is almost a game we could do without,' Geoff Cooke, the manager, said. This is not the way Carling sees it, having lost his Test place. Stuart Barnes probably did not endear himself to the management with his critical remarks after the Napier game but Cooke insisted that had no bearing on Carling's elevation. 'We have one of the most experienced and successful captains in world rugby and it seems a nonsense not to use him,' the manager said. 'We would probably have done so last week if there hadn't been a doubt about him playing. We think it's purely logical.'

WAIKATO: M Cooper; D Wilson, A Collins, R Ellison, W Warlow; I Foster, S Crabb; C Stevenson, W Gatland, G Purvis, S Gordon, B Anderson, R Jerram, J Mitchell (capt), D Monkley.

BRITISH ISLES: A Clement (Wales); R Wallace, V Cunningham (Ireland), W Carling (capt), T Underwood; S Barnes (England), R Jones (Wales); P Wright, K Milne, P Burnell, D Cronin, A Reed (Scotland), M Teague (England), M Galwey (Ireland), R Webster (Wales). Replacements: R Underwood (England), S Gibbs (Wales), D Morris (England), N Popplewell (Ireland), B Moore, M Johnson (England).

Referee: T Marshall (Christchurch).