RUGBY UNION: Fenn ready to forget as Yates stands by for Bath

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The Independent Online
SIMON FENN insists he will treat it like "any other game", but the London Scottish flanker would be less than human were he not all, um, ears in advance of the Bath team selection for this week's Premiership meeting at the Stoop. The two sides meet on Saturday for the first time since Fenn forfeited a piece of lobe during an ill-starred cup match last January and the West Countrymen know they have one or two delicate decisions to make.

Down to their last three serviceable prop forwards, Bath will have to pick either Kevin Yates or Victor Ubogu, or conceivably both. Despite his protestations of innocence, Yates was banned for six months by a Rugby Football Union disciplinary tribunal after being found guilty of biting Fenn at a collapsed scrum. Ubogu, meanwhile, was one of three players originally cited by the Exiles' management before being absolved of any blame.

Predictably, Yates was keeping his counsel yesterday. Ubogu, however, was anything but silent.

"My hurt and anger at being implicated has been well documented, but I have to let bygones be bygones and move on," said the former England tight head. "You can't afford to bear grudges in this professional era, nor can you live your life in the past. I'm just thinking about the hard game we have awaiting us. We had enough difficulty beating Scottish last time and that one was at home."

Fenn, meanwhile, has fully recovered from the trauma of the assault that happened shortly after his arrival in London from Australia, and says the ear wound is now fully healed.

"It's behind me now and while a person was found guilty, he has served his sentence and I hope it's behind him too. Saturday's match may seem like a big thing but I really don't believe it will turn out like that. It's another match, that's all."

On a happier note, Bath now expect Jon Preston, their All Black signing from New Zealand, to arrive in time for their sell-out visit to Leicester on Saturday week. Preston has just completed National Provincial Championship duties with Wellington and, while he has been playing at scrum-half back home in North Island, the reigning European champions may yet make use of his versatility by starting him at stand-off.

Saracens, beaten twice in three outings over the past 12 days, are also grappling with an awkward team selection as they prepare for their important weekend trip to Newcastle. Brendon Daniel, their free-scoring left wing, broke a hand during the defeat by Wasps last Sunday and will spend the next three weeks on the sidelines. There are also concerns over Paul Wallace, who failed to go the distance at Vicarage Road, and Richard Hill, who did not play a full part in England training on Monday.

Sale will complete the signing of Phil Greening, England's potential World Cup hooker, from Gloucester before this evening's Premiership match with Richmond. The 23-year-old forward will bring some much -needed edge to Sale's mobile but under-powered pack that failed to fire on all cylinders during a demanding run of away fixtures at Northampton, Leicester and Bath.

There was encouraging news for Richmond, too, as Allan Bateman, their influential Lions centre, declared himself available for tonight's match after a two-week lay-off with bruised ribs.

Bateman plans to postpone a minor shoulder operation until the end of next month in an effort to reclaim his place in the Wales side, who take on South Africa at Wembley on 14 November. "If I had the surgery now, there is no way I'd be ready in time," he said.

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