Rugby Union: Reid receives belated recall for Scotland

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The Independent Online
STUART REID cannot claim to have enjoyed a glittering career at Test level; a Scotland debut against the ruthless islanders of Western Samoa was hardly the most gentle of introductions and the lack of subsequent interest from the selectors, who steadfastly ignored him for the next three and a half years, must have left the try-scoring loose forward with his ego as bruised as his ribs. Happily, the former Boroughmuir and current Leeds captain saw his chances of playing some sort of role in this year's World Cup increase significantly yesterday when he was called into Jim Telfer's depleted squad for this weekend's Five Nations finale with France in Paris.

The 29-year-old No 8 is an odds-on favourite to win his second cap following Eric Peters' sad, not to say agonising, demise last Saturday. Peters fractured a patella in the closing stages of Bath's Premiership victory over Leicester - he will be in plaster for the best part of two months - and while he is confident of recovering full fitness in time for this autumn's international showpiece, this remains a heaven-sent opportunity for his understudy.

Reid's chances of making himself part of the Scottish furniture during the 1996 Five Nations were undermined when he broke a leg. He took up the challenge of professionalism by negotiating a sabbatical from his police career and moving to Leeds on a full-time contract. While the Yorkshire club have failed to make their expected impact on this season's Premiership Two campaign, Reid has been an influential and consistent performer.

Injuries have forced Telfer to pull in two other forwards, both from Newcastle. George Graham is promoted as a direct result of the broken leg suffered by Tom Smith during the victory over Ireland 17 days ago - he will start among the replacements - while Doddie Weir, still one of the most reliable line-out forwards in Europe, acts as cover for Scott Murray, the form forward of the championship. However, Murray is expected to recover from damaged ribs in good time to face the Tricolores.

England, meanwhile, were carrying out an urgent casualty check of their own yesterday as the walking wounded assembled for this Sunday's Grand Slam rumble with the Welsh at Wembley. Happily from the point of view of Clive Woodward, the red rose coach, both Jonny Wilkinson and Jeremy Guscott were full of positive vibes, despite the minor calamities that beset them over the weekend.

Wilkinson, who had his cherubic features comprehensively rearranged in the early stages of Saturday's Tetley's Bitter Cup semi-final between Newcastle and Richmond, was considered a certain starter. "The swelling over my eye has gone right down to almost nothing over the last couple of days," he said. "I should be perfectly all right."

Guscott's hamstring was still giving some cause for paranoia - in the absence of Paul Grayson, Will Greenwood and Phil de Glanville, England simply cannot afford any more cry-offs from their midfield - but the man himself was very nearly as bullish as his young partner.

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