Richards's return at No 8 six weeks after dislocating an
elbow, coupled with Ben Clarke's on the flank alongside Tim Rodber, so reuniting the back row that devastated New Zealand in November, is the certain outcome of England's 13-12 defeat by Ireland at Twickenham.
'There seems little doubt he'll be straight back for England but I'm afraid it looks as if it may be at the expense of another Leicester player,' Tony Russ, the Tigers' coaching director, said yesterday.
This was a reference to Neil Back, who is precariously placed after two unusually barren appearances at open side. Steve Ojomoh would also have to make way despite having had a decent debut - provided the elbow injury which caused Clarke's withdrawal and Ojomoh's belated inclusion heals as quickly as expected.
France, as shocked at losing 24-15 in Wales as England were at their result, will select at the weekend. So will the Irish. The winless Scots have brought their selection forward from next Sunday to Wednesday.
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