Rugby Union: Four to face a test of time

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The Independent Online
Scott Quinnell

(Wales)

Since receiving a Prodigal Son's welcome back from league in 1996, Quinnell has been an enigma. On occasions, the 26-year-old Richmond No 8 has used his bull-like strength to produce dominant, world-class performances, but opinion on him is still divided in the Principality. His cause was not helped when he was sidelined for much of last season by the groin injury which prematurely ended his participation in the 1997 Lions tour of South Africa. Now, due to his wife's homesickness, he is seeking a move back to Wales and is in the shop window. So he will be hoping that his recent sending off does not prevent him from facing South Africa at Wembley on Saturday, and then to make a big impression against Argentina.

Tony Underwood

(England)

Even though Austin Healey, Tom Beim, Spencer Brown, Paul Sampson and Tim Stimpson were all used as wings during England's summer tour, it is a fair bet that Clive Woodward's first-choice selections would be David Rees and Tony Underwood. Both sat out the summer with injuries and Rees is still struggling this season. Underwood has benefited from the rest and is running into form and fitness in time to claim his first England cap in more than 18 months. His hat-trick last weekend, suggested that he is again near the standard that earned him his first cap in 1992 and selection for last year's Lions. However, he turns 30 in February and knows he is unlikely to have too many more chances.

Jeremy Davidson

(Ireland)

After returning from the Lions tour of South Africa established as one of the game's outstanding locks, the 24-year-old Ulsterman has had a frustrating time. He missed the whole of last season while recovering from a knee operation and has since moved from London Irish to Castres where he has been quietly regaining fitness and form. Valuable though his abrasive, dynamic style of play undoubtedly is, he faces a formidable job just to re-establish himself in the Irish side. The team will be captained by the Saracens' lock, Paddy Johns, while the young London Irish second row, Malcolm O'Kelly, who stood in for him last season, has made an impressive start to the current campaign.

Kenny Logan

(Scotland)

Another player to have foregone a summer tour for fitness reasons, the 26-year-old wing has made a strong start to the season with Wasps. Not only has he claimed his usual quota of tries, but he has become Wasps' principal place kicker. The absence of Craig Chalmers from the squad for Saturday's meeting with the New Zealand Maoris suggests that he is a candidate for the kicking duties. However, he has been dropped more than once by the Scottish selectors and has much to prove during the coming weeks if he is to prolong his international career.

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