Rugby union: Dawson returns to Woodward's bold new world

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ENGLAND'S NOW infamous 76-0 drubbing by Australia last weekend has not deflected Clive Woodward, the national coach, from his profoundly-held belief that fortune favours the bold. Selectorial experiments may have gone up in smoke in Brisbane - on the evidence of Saturday night, Woodward would have landed a leading role in Carry On Chemist - but he returned to the laboratory yesterday and duly came up with a new brainwave.

Tom Beim, the Sale wing, will play in the unfamiliar position of full- back in this Saturday's tough assignment against New Zealand A in Hamilton. Given the threat posed by an all-international back three of Adrian Cashmore, Glen Osborne and Jonah Lomu, it smacks of another ultra-bold move by a coach with an undiluted passion for the unorthodox.

"I don't actually agree that Tom has been picked out of position," Woodward said in Rotorua yesterday. "He has experience in the No 15 shirt and anyway, there is hardly a world of difference between wing and full-back play these days." Beim's change of scenery opens up the wing positions for Matt Moore, who has the dubious honour of marking Lomu, and Dominic Chapman, the slightly-built Richmond waif who could probably hide in one of Lomu's boots.

Woodward's back-line selection may have more to do with the sudden appearance in midfield of Nick Beal, the versatile Northampton attacker who enjoyed his share of bright moments on last summer's Lions tour of South Africa. Beal was originally named at full-back, but the selectors may now be hoping that a successful run at centre will allow Matt Perry to return to his natural No 15 role against New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday week.

The other significant change to Woodward's blueprint sees Matt Dawson, the tour captain, restored at scrum-half. Dawson missed the Wallaby Test through injury but successfully survived consecutive full-contact training sessions and was duly declared fit yesterday.

"It was a bitterly frustrating experience watching my team-mates struggle so badly against the Australians, but that game is now history and we've agreed not to discuss it further," the Northampton half-back said. "As far as I'm concerned, this tour starts anew in Hamilton on Saturday and the match cannot come too quickly. There is a genuine air of anticipation amongst the party and we're confident we can eradicate the basic errors we were guilty of committing in Brisbane."

ENGLAND (v New Zealand A): T Beim (Sale); M Moore (Sale), N Beal (Northampton), J Baxendell (Sale), D Chapman (Richmond); J Lewsey (Bristol), M Dawson (Northampton, capt); D Bell (Sale), P Greening (Gloucester), W Green (Wasps), R Fidler (Gloucester), D Sims (Gloucester), B Clarke (Richmond), S Ojomoh (Gloucester), P Sanderson (Sale).

Justin Bishop, the London Irish right wing, has been selected ahead of Richard Wallace for Ireland against South Africa in Bloemfontein on Saturday. Wallace, who played in Ireland's 52-13 defeat by Griqualand West in Kimberley on Tuesday, has suffered from a dip in form.