Rugby Union: De Glanville given chance to heal scars: Injured Guscott misses All Blacks Test

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A MONTH after his face made the controversial acquaintance of New Zealand studs, Philip de Glanville will be able to look the All Blacks straight in the eye when he plays instead of the injured Jeremy Guscott for England at Twickenham next Saturday.

It will be the 25-year-old centre's first international start after two caps as a replacement last season, though but for an injury of his own he would have been a replacement Lion in New Zealand during the summer. He last partnered Will Carling at Durham University in 1988.

Jonathan Callard at full-back is the only new cap even though the team show eight changes from the one battered by the Irish eight months ago, the last time England had a match.

The auguries are not auspicious, the All Blacks having run into devastating form in beating Scotland 51-15 and injuries having cost England their most dangerous strike weapon, Guscott, and their main ball-winner, Martin Bayfield.

'This is probably the most disrupted team preparation I've had since I've been manager, but we have confidence in the players we have brought in,' Geoff Cooke said at Twickenham yesterday. 'It was an outstanding performance by the All Blacks, but we are the only team in the northern hemisphere who could beat them.'

De Glanville's left eye, which needed 15 stitches around it after the South-West game on 30 October, has now fully recovered from its fearsome injury except that the stitching scar remains and the eyelid does not open quite as wide as the right one. He made his comeback in Bath's 9-6 defeat at Leicester on Saturday.

His inclusion at centre in the selection announced yesterday - the England team were the worst-kept secret in sport after being decided a week earlier - came because Guscott's serious groin strain requires total rest until Christmas.

It will be the first time Guscott has missed an England match through injury since he became the last to score three debut tries, against Romania in 1989, until Jeff Wilson did it for New Zealand at Murrayfield on Saturday.

The grand summit on rucking between the New Zealand management and representatives of the Rugby Football Union was finally held last night, after which a joint statement was issued that said: 'In the coaching and playing of the game the intention of rucking is to get the ball by driving over it and raking it back. It is not the intention to deliberately trample on players and all players are coached to avoid contact with the head. That practice is abhorred by all of us.'

De Glanville, meanwhile, said he regarded the incident that caused his injury as 'dead and buried'. He added: 'I'm sure it won't be the last time I'm injured playing rugby. If I'm stuck on the bottom of a ruck, I'll put my hands on my head.' And, doubtless, say a prayer.

As anticipated, England have gone for a behemoth back row of Rodber, Clarke and Richards, not least to compensate for the inclusion in Bayfield's place of Nigel Redman for his 13th cap since 1984. It is worryingly similar to Scottish selectorial thinking, which can hardly be said to have been a raging success.

Rodber, who missed yesterday's training with a shoulder injury, and the flu-bound scrum-half Dewi Morris must prove their fitness on Wednesday, with John Hall and the uncapped Kyran Bracken standing by to replace them.

Cooke insisted, as of course he had to, that England could succeed where Scotland had lamentably failed. 'The Scots lacked any real pace to cause any problem,' the England manager said. 'We have to ask how deep the Scottish confidence was that they could beat the All Blacks, or were they just saying it and hoping?'

ENGLAND (v New Zealand, Twickenham, next Saturday): J Callard (Bath); T Underwood (Leicester), W Carling (Harlequins, capt), P de Glanville (Bath), R Underwood (Leicester); R Andrew (Wasps), D Morris (Orrell); J Leonard, B Moore (Harlequins), V Ubogu (Bath), M Johnson (Leicester), N Redman (Bath), T Rodber (Northampton), D Richards (Leicester), B Clarke (Bath). Replacements: I Hunter (Northampton), S Barnes (Bath), K Bracken (Bristol), G Rowntree (Leicester), G Dawe, J Hall (Bath).

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