Rugby Union: Forwards recover for England

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The Independent Online
Good news is not something Jack Rowell has had in abundance in recent weeks, but yesterday Jason Leonard and Martin Johnson gave England's coach a major boost by declaring themselves fit to play against Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday.

The experienced pair had been doubtful because of injuries - the prop Leonard after a minor elbow operation and the lock Johnson after straining an ankle during Leicester's European Cup final defeat by Brive last Saturday. But both participated in scrum work during training sessions at Bisham Abbey. The reserve forwards Ben Clarke and Phil Greening also recovered sufficiently from their bouts of flu to take part in the sessions.

Alan Tait, the former Great Britain rugby league player, has been forced to withdraw from the Scotland A side to play England A at The Stoop tomorrow. The centre is suffering from a groin strain and his place goes to Caledonia's Paul Rouse.

Also out of the side is Tait's Newcastle team-mate George Graham, another former league player. He is replaced at loosehead by John Manson. The Peebles prop Steve Ferguson takes Manson's place on the bench, while that of Rouse goes to the Melrose centre Scot Nichol.

Robert Howley will have to make the decision himself whether to play for Wales in their showdown with Ireland at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday. The Cardiff scrum-half, who has played in the last 13 Tests, did not take a full part in yesterday afternoon's training session due to his shoulder injury. Paul John of Pontypridd is poised to start his first Five Nations' match if Howley pulls out. The good news for Wales is that their hooker and captain, Jonathan Humphreys (shoulder), prop David Young (flu) and No 8 Scott Quinnell (toe) all came through the session.

Eric Elwood, the Ireland stand-off, has been passed fit to play against Wales after recovering from a hamstring injury.

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