Rugby Union: Pearce's rare double chance: Veteran props back in packs to face All Blacks

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The Independent Online
THE All Blacks may be looking to develop new players on their tour, but not so their opponents. New Zealand's finest will pack down against one 37- year-old tight-head prop - Jeff Probyn - in tomorrow's game against London at Twickenham, and another - Gary Pearce - against the Midlands at Leicester on Tuesday.

The Midlands have made the traditional move to set- scrummage solidity, calling up Pearce, the Northampton veteran, to replace Leicester's Darren Garforth, 10 years his junior, after their hefty defeat by the South-West. 'It may appear that we are singling Darren out but we were dissatisfied with our set-piece work,' Stan Purdy, the chairman of the Midlands selectors, said.

Pearce has the chance to record a rare double over the All Blacks, both he and the Midlands captain, Dean Richards, played in the 1983 Midlands team who beat the tourists 19-13.

The selection of Pearce and Probyn show the emphasis that is still placed on the scrummage in Britain, and should Victor Ubogu find the going too tough for the South-West against the All Blacks at Redruth next Saturday, it is possible that Probyn's England career could be revived again.

Dewi Morris became the latest England player to show injury problems, following Martin Bayfield, Ben Clarke and Jeremy Guscott. Morris has pulled out of the North's side to play the South-West in the divisional championship at Gloucester tomorrow because of his long-running shoulder injury. Wakefield's David Scully steps up. Guscott, whose groin problem is responding to treatment, has been advised to rest for a further week and is out of the South-West's side.

Richard Langhorn has withdrawn from the London side with a pulled calf muscle. Dean Ryan has moved into the second row, with Ryan's place at No 8 being taken by Chris Sheashby. Anthony Diprose joins the replacements' bench.

MIDLANDS (v New Zealand, Leicester, 26 Oct): S Hodgkinson (Moseley); S Hackney, S Potter, I Bates (all Leicester), H Thorneycroft (Northampton); P Challinor (Harlequins), M Dawson (Northampton); G Rowntree (Leicester), J Olver (Northampton), G Pearce (Northampton), M Johnson (Leicester), S Lloyd (Moseley), J Wells, D Richards (capt), N Back (all Leicester). Replacements: J Harris (Leicester), F Packman (Northampton), A Kardooni (Leicester), G Baldwin (Northampton), R Cockerill (Leicester), I Skingsley (Bedford).

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