Rugby Union: Catt in for England as Andrew answers call

Saint Jack the Evangelist, high priest of 21st century "inter- active rugby", turned turtle in dramatic fashion yesterday and reinvented himself as a born-again pragmatist by recalling Rob Andrew to England colours at the age of 34. Quite what coach Rowell's extraordinary decision might do for his side's chances of beating Wales in Cardiff, on Saturday, was rather less clear than the effect it was likely to have on young Alex King.

Andrew was drafted in from Newcastle at lunchtime as cover for Paul Grayson, whose hip injury was giving grave cause for concern. The 70-cap veteran thought it probable that he would be on the plane back north come the evening, but his involvement against the Welsh was confirmed when Grayson conceded defeat yesterday evening.

Mike Catt, of Bath, will start at outside-half when England go in pursuit of a Triple Crown, with Andrew, whose high-profile and highly salaried role in Sir John Hall's Newcastle rugby revolution effectively drew a line under his top-level career, on the bench.

There is now a very real possibility that the hero of England's 1995 World Cup quarter-final victory in Cape Town will stand eyeball to eyeball with Jonathan Davies, his great adversary from as long ago as 1985, at some point during proceedings at the Arms Park.

Andrew turned up at the team's Marlow hotel yesterday to a fusillade of good-natured stick from his old colleagues - "Come on the Messiah," roared Jason Leonard from an open lounge window; "I thought you'd be arriving on a donkey," shouted Will Carling.

King, the fast-developing stand-off from Wasps who was pulled into the squad when Grayson's injury first began to look serious, was left to reflect on an unnecessarily brutal blow to his self-esteem. Predictably, his treatment earned Rowell some barbed criticism from Nigel Melville, the director of rugby at Wasps, who described Andrew's appearance as a "huge step backwards".

"The selectors feel they have problems with goalkicking cover on the bench," said Andrew, who looked more than a little embarrassed at his unexpected re-emergence from well over a year of international retirement.

"The request from Jack surprised me and I thought about declining, but after giving it a great deal of thought over 24 hours, I decided I was in a position to help out," he said. "I'm quite happy with my form and fitness but this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the start of a comeback. It's purely a one-off."

All very romantic, but wrong all the same. Having sent for King, who Rowell unhesitatingly described yesterday as "a key element in our thinking for the 1999 World Cup", the selectors betrayed one of their most gifted youngsters by losing their nerve and pulling in an old lag over his head.

Astonishingly, Rowell claimed that King would react positively to what amounted to a public kick in the teeth. The player's downbeat expression as he left for training at Bisham Abbey suggested a very different scenario.

"Rob is experienced, a No 10 and a goalkicker," said Rowell by way of explanation. "Alex is not a placekicker for his club and as I have repeatedly said, we have an issue here. This is a one-off situation; we've done a lot of building for the future this season but on this occasion, Rob is the simplest solution."

As if King needed to be exposed to any more ironies, Rowell added that had Tim Stimpson, England's full-back, been first-choice kicker at Newcastle, King would have held his place in the hierarchy and sat on the bench this weekend. And who is blocking Stimpson's development as a kicker at Kingston Park? Step forward Rob Andrew.

Phil de Glanville, the England captain, reacted uncomfortably to Andrew's call-up. He did his best to avoid commenting on the situation but he said: "I don't see why outside-halves and full-backs should be automatically pigeon-holed as kickers. There is no reason that I can see why centres, wings or even forwards should not work hard on their kicking. After all, we've just been beaten by France thanks to the goal-kicking of a centre, Christophe Lamaison.

"There are a number of things floating around behind the scenes - the Lions tour in the summer is an obvious one - but for all that, we are very focused on the match in Cardiff. We know we have a lot to do and it's important that we show the mental toughness that was missing at important times against France."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine