Rugby Union / Five Nations' Championship: Barnes forced off bench: Hull set to replace injured replacement

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The Independent Online
A GROIN injury exacerbated by kicking practice caused Stuart Barnes to withdraw last night from the England bench for Saturday's Five Nations decider against Wales at Twickenham.

Barnes has always been a reluctant replacement - especially when the outside-half is, as it usually has been, Rob Andrew - and his enthusiasm to continue in this thankless role might well have been waning anyway. This would have been his 28th time on the bench, compared with a paltry 10 caps.

Barnes has struggled with groin trouble all season. The problem put him out of rugby at a critical time when the All Blacks were in England in the autumn, leaving the field clear for Andrew. The replacement replacement, to be named today, will probably be the versatile Bristol back, Paul Hull.

Phil Davies is confident he will be fit for Wales despite missing training because of a hamstring twinge. It will be his 39th cap, two short of Graham Price's Welsh forward record. 'It's just a precaution,' he insisted yesterday. 'This is one match I wouldn't want to miss for anything.'

Determined to have a summer off after being in New Zealand in each of the past two, the Lions prop, Nick Popplewell, last night ruled himself out of Ireland's close-season tour to Australia. Popplewell, who has 23 caps, believes rest is also the only answer to a long-term hamstring injury.

ENGLAND EMERGING PLAYERS (v Canada A, Richmond, 20 March): A Tunningley (Saracens); P Holford (Gloucester), N Beal (Northampton), G Childs (Wasps), J Sleightholme (Wakefield); P Grayson (Northampton), R Kitchin (Bristol); D Crompton (Bath), R Cockerill (Leicester), A Deacon (Gloucester), M Poole (Leicester), R West (Gloucester), A Diprose (Saracens), L Dallaglio (Wasps), D Eves (Bristol, capt). Replacements: D Edwards (Wakefield), J Harris (Leicester), I Sanders (Bath), D Garforth (Leicester), G French (Orrell), R Hill (Saracens).