Will Carling, Peter Winterbottom and Jason Leonard are available for the trip, so Brian Moore is the only England absentee during the week that follows the Scotland match at Twickenham. Transvaal, Northern Transvaal, Eastern Province, Orange Free State, South African Barbarians and Namibia are among the other invitees.
The invitation could not have been for a more convenient time. The M-Net Night Series, which kicks off the South African season, coincides with Quins' week off from First Division rugby. A squad of 20 will travel for the first match, at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, on 9 March, with the final four days later, when Quins were due to play a friendly at Wakefield.
England yesterday lost Ian Hunter from the bench for the Calcutta Cup match; he was replaced by Philip de Glanville, the Bath centre. Hunter, relegated from the team after the 10-9 defeat in Wales, needed a minor eye operation after falling victim to a Welsh boot in Cardiff, but would have recovered in time for Twickenham.
But now he has had his second knee operation of the season on an injury which first afflicted him at an England training weekend in September. Having scored two tries on his debut against Canada, the unlucky Hunter missed the win over South Africa with a leg injury sustained during a football kick-about and then returned to score the winning try against France.
Mike Hall's prospects of taking his place in the Wales centre against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday are improving by the day. His chances of recovering from a groin strain were yesterday put at 60-40 with Alan Davies, the coach, saying Hall would test his fitness by taking a full part in tonight's training in Cardiff.
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