Rugby Union: Shaw rushed into action

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The Independent Online
training and told, to his considerable delight, that he would have to play for England against South Africa A in Kimberley this afternoon.

If anyone can be said to be a near-certain England cap of the future, it is Shaw - not bad for a 20- year-old whose rugby career has so far lasted all of four years. He was brought up in Kenya and Spain but within a year of taking up the game at Godalming College in Surrey he was a schools' international. His height, 6ft 8in, helped somewhat; now he is 6-9 and 19st.

Shaw's arrival, in place of the concussed Martin Johnson, excuses Nigel Redman today's game. This is good news, given that Saturday brings the first Test against the Springboks, but also bad news for the midweek team, who could have done with Redman's experience.

Most, if not all, of this England team know their Test chance is nil, whereas the shadow Springboks will be highly motivated with their Test team to be announced tonight. This is the first time a South African A team have included full Springboks. They have three, including their captain Adriaan Richter, who is often held to have blackened Neil Back's England prospects by running through Back's tackle for a try in a tour match at Bristol in 1992.

And lest there be any doubt as to the toughness of today's prospect, the South African front row includes Gary Pagel, whose footwork opened up Jean-Francois Tordo's face during last year's tour by France, and Johan le Roux, whose punch last Saturday put Johnson out of this tour.

England will fly in and out of Kimberley today, the cancellation of their three nights in the diamond town having done nothing to endear them to the Griqualand West Rugby Union.

They will do the right thing on Thursday, meanwhile, by conducting coaching sessions in the black township of Soshanguve, 20 miles north of Pretoria.

SOUTH AFRICA A: C Dirks (Transvaal); S Berridge (Western Province), C Scholtz, J Mulder (Transvaal), C van der Westhuizen (Natal); J Stransky (Western Province), J Roux (Transvaal); G Pagel (Western Province), J Dalton, J le Roux, K Wiese (Transvaal), K Otto (Northern Transvaal), F van Heerden (Western Province), A Richter (Northern Transvaal, capt), A Venter (Orange Free State).

ENGLAND: J Callard (Bath); D Hopley (Wasps), S Potter (Leicester), M Catt, A Adebayo; S Barnes (Bath), S Bates (Wasps); G Rowntree (Leicester), G Dawe, J Mallett (Bath), S Shaw (Bristol), M Poole (Leicester), L Dallaglio, D Ryan (Wasps, capt), S Ojomoh (Bath).

Referee: S Neethling (Wellington, Boland).