Rugby Union: Versatile Clement steps up

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The Independent Online
TONY CLEMENT, the Swansea full-back, has been pressed into service as a centre for Wales when they complete their summer tour against Western Samoa, the South Pacific champions, in Apia today. With Mike Hall and Neil Boobyer ruled out through injury, Clement wins his third cap in the position for Wales, who have also played him in the centre and at stand-off.

The versatile Clement made his debut as a replacement centre against the United States in 1987, scoring two tries in 20 minutes, and he then featured in the win against France this year when Nigel Davies dropped out.

Wales, besides seeking to maintain their unbeaten tour record, have a score to settle after losing 16-13 to the Samoans in Cardiff during the 1991 World Cup, a match which also has painful memories for Clement. He was on the receiving end of one of the hardest tackles seen at the Arms Park and was carried off shortly before half-time. 'It was like being in a car crash,' Clement recalled.

As well as progressing through to the quarter-finals, the Samoans put Phil May and Richie Collins off the field with dislocated shoulders. This time, though, the Welsh feel they are are better prepared to handle any similar treatment.

Meanwhile, Hemi Taylor's place in the back row is taken by Emyr Lewis, who dropped out of Wednesday's win over Tonga with a bruised hip. Phil Davies, the Llanelli lock, will become the most capped Welsh forward when he makes his 42nd appearance, one better than Graham Price, the former Pontypool prop.

Davies's record, however, pales alongside that of Philippe Sella's. Tomorrow, the French centre becomes the first player to win 100 caps in the first Test against New Zealand in Christchurch. And while Sella continues to keep himself in great physical shape, the Australian coach, Bob Dwyer, was blaming the frequency of games for a spate of injuries. With the second Test against Italy, who ran the Wallabies close in Brisbane last weekend, taking place in Melbourne today, Dwyer complained: 'Every time we play, there are blokes carrying injuries.'

WALES (v Western Samoa, Apia, today): M Rayer (Cardiff); I Evans (Llanelli, capt), A Clement (Swansea), N Davies, W Proctor (Llanelli); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Moon; R Evans (Llanelli), G Jenkins (Swansea), J Davies (Neath), P Davies (Llanelli), G Llewellyn (Neath), E Lewis, S Quinnell (Llanelli), R Collins (Pontypridd). Replacements: P John (Pontypridd), A Davies (Cardiff), R McBryde (Swansea), H Williams-Jones (Llanelli), H Taylor (Cardiff), A Copsey (Llanelli).

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