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Rugby Union: Corkery unlikely to face England

The luck of the Irish? Don't mention it to David Corkery, the red-blooded blind-side flanker who slipped his challenge for a place on this summer's Lions tour of South Africa into overdrive with an uncompromisingly effective display in his country's victory over Wales at the weekend.

Although Corkery completed the match in Cardiff, it soon transpired that he did so with a broken bone in his right hand. He is doubtful for the match with England in Dublin on Saturday week - he expects a definitive opinion from his specialist tomorrow - and may also miss the date with Scotland at Murrayfield on 1 March.

The injury is likely to hurt Ireland more than it hurt the Bristol forward, who was so focused on the rough and tumble with the Welsh that he remained unaware of any problem until, by chance, he looked at his hand and realised that the ring finger was at 90 degrees to the rest of it.

"I thought at first that it was a bad dislocation, so I pulled the finger back into shape myself," said the 24-year-old fitness instructor from Cork yesterday. "I did that to make sure of staying on the field - I had no intention of going off - but as it turned out, I did the right thing from a medical point of view. I've been told that by acting immediately, I minimised the damage.

"The X-ray has confirmed a break and all the details have been given to an orthopaedic surgeon. I'd like to think I was 50-50 for the England game - as broken hands go, it's not the worst - but I suspect I'll be very fortunate to make it."

Ireland will curse their misfortune if their outstanding big-hit tackler is forced to withdraw, but they have room to manoeuvre. They could recall Eddie Halvey or Anthony Foley, who are both full internationals, or gamble on a debut for Kieran Dawson, the London Irish short-side specialist.

A still more attractive option might be to relocate Eric Miller from No 8 to No 6, thus creating space for Paddy Johns to shift from second row to back row with Gabriel Fulcher restored the engine room. But Johns is playing the best rugby of his life at lock and with Miller in equally inspirational form, the selectors might prefer to leave well alone. The Irish announce their side on Sunday.

Joost van der Westhuizen, South Africa's try-scoring scrum-half, has joined the list of players in the World XV squad to play England's champions at Twickenham on 24 May for the Sanyo Cup. The squad, captained by Philippe Sella, already contained most of the world's best players including David Campese and Francois Pienaar.