Rugby Union: Clarke gives England a new problem: Bath No 8 out of action

Click to follow
ENGLAND still have more than six weeks to get their players fit before they face the All Blacks but already injury worries are crowding in. Ben Clarke, the outstanding Lion on the summer tour to New Zealand, will today follow Martin Bayfield into the consulting-room in the hope of identifying the cause of a collar-bone injury that is getting worse rather than better.

Bayfield, another successful Lion, is already out of the Midlands team to play the tourists next Tuesday. Problems caused by the lock's neck injury, lesser injuries affecting Simon Hodgkinson and Matthew Dawson, and the possible non-availability of John Wells have prompted the division's selectors to defer their choice until tomorrow.

Bayfield has been ordered to rest completely. Clarke, meanwhile, is doubtful for the South-West against the All Blacks on Saturday week and has withdrawn from the side to play the North on Saturday. 'It's the collisions that do it,' the Bath No 8 said yesterday. 'The collar- bone keeps coming out where it meets the sternum.'

The All Blacks spilled one ball during yesterday's first full training session at London Irish RFC - and Laurie Mains, the coach, made it clear that was one too many. Both the Blacks and London will name their team today for the tour opener at Twickenham on Saturday, which looks like being a 54,000 sell-out.

In the London team, Rory Jenkins, of London Irish, is almost certain to displace the England squad member, Lawrence Dallaglio, at open-side flanker, while Alan Buzza's shoulder injury makes it likely that Huw Davies will continue at full-back.

The New Zealand management have reinstated the Haka for their non-Test matches - provided the pre-match ritual is treated with respect by opponents. In Australia last year, the home players responded by blowing kisses and sticking out their tongues.

The Welsh Rugby Union yesterday downgraded the post of secretary when it promoted its deputy secretary, Edward Jones, to fill the position formerly held by the dismissed Denis Evans. The last thing the union wants after Evans is a high-profile paid administrator and Jones will be a simple functionary, albeit on a five-year contract at pounds 45,000 a year, with the prosaic twin tasks of heading up the staff and implementing committee policy.