Rugby Union: Quins lacking Lacroix

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The Independent Online
HARLEQUINS' French playmaker Thierry Lacroix has been ruled out of today's Allied Dunbar Premiership match against visiting Gloucester with a knee injury. The fly-half is forced to sit out the match on the sidelines, giving Rob Liley the No 10 jersey as ninth-placed Harlequins seek a long-overdue Premiership success.

The London club's director of rugby, Andy Keast, who has temporarily handed the coaching reins to the New Zealand import Zinzan Brooke while he conducts a widespread playing review, had hoped for a significant contribution from Lacroix. But the Harlequins chief has been left rueing the cumulative effects of a hard season on the fitness of his squad.

"We have had a lot of bad luck with injuries this season," said Keast. "Thierry was making a big difference since recovering from an earlier injury problem, but now we're without him again."

Quins can at least parade their big guns up front, with the club captain and England prop Jason Leonard, Keith Wood of Ireland, the Wales lock Gareth Llewellyn, Frenchman Laurent Cabannes and No 8 Chris Sheasby all ready to meet Gloucester's powerful forward challenge.

The West-country men, who have collected just three league points on their travels this season, have rested the regular first team forwards Mark Cornwell and Simon Devereux in favour of the lock Dave Sims and the No 8 Steve Ojomoh.

"It's important that I don't have a situation whereby 15 players appear regularly, and 15 others do not," said the Gloucester coach Richard Hill. "I want to keep everyone involved, which means avoiding a them and us situation. I want to see all the players pulling together, and not figuring in two different camps."

Fiji, the World Sevens champions, were given a scare at the Hong Kong Sevens yesterday by Argentina, who held them to a thrilling 21-21 draw in the final qualifying match. A try by Jose Orengo, converted by Duncan Forrester on full-time, cemented Argentina's place in the knock-out phase. Their reward is to play New Zealand in the quarter-finals today.

Fiji, in the same half of the draw, play Australia, while in the other section of the draw Western Samoa face Canada and France meet South Africa. The French were in danger of being eliminated, but produced just enough in their last pool match against Canada to scrape through with a 26-21 win.

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