Rugby Union: Cockerill's Five Nations hopes threatened by knee injury

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The Independent Online
The England hooker Richard Cockerill faces a struggle to be fit for the opening match of the Five Nations' Championship in France on 7 February after damaging his left knee in Leicester's 45-21 win over Wasps.

"I feared the worst at first when I was tackled and fell awkwardly because the pain was severe," Cockerill said. "There is no accurate diagnosis at the moment. I will have a scan but I am more optimistic now."

Cockerill was limping after the game and was told that if the joint became swollen overnight there could be a problem in being fit for the Paris trip.

The Leicester coach, Bob Dwyer, said: "If it's a tear he should be OK. If he needs a keyhole operation that should be two weeks. But anything more serious could be six weeks. But England should have no worries about him for France."

Wasps were totally outclassed by Leicester, who were aided by 25 points from Joel Stransky and notched 21 points between the 74th and 77th minutes so that the scoreline, at 45-9, briefly reflected their superiority.

Two late Kenny Logan tries for Wasps, the outgoing champions, for a 45- 21 result did not mean that Wasps were even half as good as Leicester. The Londoners stand one place above the relegation zone, while the Tigers kept up the pace on the leaders.

"The game flowed 95 per cent our way," Dwyer said, "but we should have been 25 points clear at half-time instead of just five."

The Wasps coach, Nigel Melville, said: "We missed 17 tackles and that is too costly. The first-time tackles were not going in. We have got to get ourselves sorted out before playing Bath in a month and, encouragingly, we have a batch of international players returning from injury."

l The New Zealand flanker Michael Jones hopes to be fit in time for this season's Super 12 competition, making a remarkable comeback after suffering a devastating knee injury last year. The 32-year-old is optimistic his knee will have fully recovered in time for him to play a major role in the Auckland Blues' defence of their Super 12 crown when the competition starts on 27 February. Jones ruptured the patella tendon in his left knee in the All Blacks' test match against Fiji last June. The injury required immediate surgery which put him out for the rest of the season. At the time, many doubted whether he would play again. "I'm still having to manage it," Jones said, "but I'm pleased with the way things are going. I can run but I've got more work to do to be a lot more explosive."