Rugby Union: Dooley is back to face Wales

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The Independent Online
AFTER playing and then training without ill effect over the weekend, Wade Dooley successfully proved his fitness and resumed his England second-row place when the team to play Wales next Saturday was announced at Twickenham yesterday.

With the 35-year-old policeman's recall, England revert to the choice that would have played against France but for Dooley's thigh strain. It will be his 53rd cap, extending his own record for an England lock at the same time as Brian Moore exceeds John Pullin's (1966-76) for a hooker.

It will be Moore's 43rd cap, the record coming one game later than he anticipated at the start of the season when he expected to appear against Canada and South Africa before Christmas. In fact, a leg injury made him miss out on the Canadians, though the management indicated he would not have been picked even if he had been fit.

Meanwhile, Martin Johnson, now clearly identified as Dooley's heir apparent rather than heir presumptive after his impressive debut in the French match, returns to the England A team for their encounter with Italy at Bath on Wednesday.

As the England selectors have seldom been tempted to tinker with a winning side, even when victory is as narrow as that against France, this is an entirely predictable selection, though Rob Andrew's situation at Wasps can hardly be said to be ideal preparation for Test rugby.

Geoff Cooke, the manager, has made clear his acerbic views on the interminable requalification his England stand-off is having to undergo before he plays league or cup rugby for Wasps. And now, with England one step along the road to a third consecutive Grand Slam, he finds Wasps not even picking him for a friendly.

ENGLAND (v Wales, Cardiff, 6 February): J Webb (Bath); I Hunter (Northampton), J Guscott (Bath), W Carling (Harlequins, capt), R Underwood (Leicester); R Andrew (Wasps), D Morris (Orrell); J Leonard, B Moore (Harlequins), J Probyn (Wasps), M Bayfield (Northampton), W Dooley (Preston Grasshoppers), M Teague (Moseley), B Clarke (Bath), P Winterbottom (Harlequins). Replacements: P de Glanville, S Barnes (Bath), S Bates (Wasps), V Ubogu (Bath), J Olver, T Rodber (Northampton).

Tim Rodber's place among the England replacements could be affected by a nasty injury picked up in training with Northampton on Thursday night. Rodber suffered a severe gash on his left knee and the eight-inch, inch- deep wound required more than 20 stitches.

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