Rugby Union: Criticised Richards made captain

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THE LIONS management yesterday retorted to criticism in New Zealand of Dean Richards by naming him as captain of the side to play Canterbury in Christchurch on Wednesday, writes Steve Bale. The tour captain, Gavin Hastings, is rested after his heroics against the Maoris.

Richards has been targeted because it was his boot that caused the All Black centre, Frank Bunce, to need 12 stitches in a head wound after the North Harbour game last Wednesday. The Lions maintain Richards, who was punched out of the game in retaliation, was going for the ball.

Geoff Cooke, the British Isles manager, said: 'When we looked at the side and the potential leadership qualities, we decided we'd like him to do the job. It's as simple as that.' Even so, it is hard to avoid the impression that the choice is a very deliberate vote of confidence, particularly with Rob Andrew a captaincy alternative.

All those not in Saturday's starting line-up are included. Richard Wallace will make his first tour appearance, and Richard Webster will be fit after an ankle injury. Will Carling and Nick Popplewell were expected to train today after injuries on Saturday.

BRITISH ISLES (v Canterbury, Christchurch, 2 June): A Clement (Wales); R Wallace (Ireland), J Guscott (England), S Gibbs (Wales), T Underwood; R Andrew (England), R Jones (Wales); J Leonard (England), K Milne, P Burnell (Scotland), M Bayfield (England), A Reed (Scotland), M Galwey (Ireland), D Richards (England, capt), R Webster (Wales). Replacements: S Hastings (Scotland), S Barnes, D Morris (England), P Wright (Scotland), B Moore, B Clarke (England).