Rugby Union: Lamerton faces career threat: Injury hits hooker

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The Independent Online
THE career of the Llanelli and Wales hooker, Andrew Lamerton, is under threat from a mystery back injury which ruled him out as a replacement for last weekend's Five Nations' Championship opener against Scotland.

Lamerton, 23, was forced to give up his seat on the bench when he suffered a reaction to a pain-killing muscle relaxant given to him prior to a Wales practice session last week.

'It was thought then that it was some form of neuralgia so I was given the relaxant but I reacted badly to it,' Lamerton said. 'I flaked out and cannot remember anything about it. Basically, I suppose I had some kind of fit and I spent two days in East Glamorgan hospital.'

Now he faces a worrying week while he waits to undergo further tests at a Cardiff hospital to discover a full diagnosis of his problem. 'The doctors seem to think it is a problem with the nerve between the 10th and 11th ribs and I have been told to do absolutely nothing for at least a month. But, deep down, I am afraid it could be worse than that,' Lamerton said.

'Realistically, this year's Five Nations is out of my grasp. Maybe the whole of the season is. Or, perhaps, even longer. It is a major knock, not only to my rugby career but to my personal life.'

England's leading 40 clubs want to downgrade the county championship. The Senior Clubs' Association yesterday proposed that players registered with sides in the four national divisions should be barred from competing for their counties. It would remove the top 1,600 players in the country from the 105-year-old competition.

Robert Jones, the Wales and Lions scrum-half, is considering an approach by Western Province to play in South Africa at the end of the season.

Chris Johnson, Leicester's England Under-21 hooker, has signed registration forms for Northampton. However, he will move to Franklins Gardens only if he fails to oust Richard Cockerill, the Tigers' first-choice hooker, by the end of the season.

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