Rugby Union: Vickery return lifts Gloucester

DAVE SIMS and his Gloucester colleagues were more than a little surprised to see their beloved Kingsholm homestead advertised for sale on the Internet yesterday - a bold Cherry and White prankster managed to sucker the lot of them by placing an April Fool spoof on the club website. But the shock was probably nothing compared to the announcement that Phil Vickery, their long-lost England prop, was named in a 24-man squad for the Tetley's Bitter Cup semi-final with Wasps at Loftus Road on Sunday.

There was no guarantee that the 22-year-old tighthead would start one of the most important matches in recent Gloucester history, but his very presence in the party was enough to bolster West Country confidence in advance of the big outing to Shepherd's Bush. Vickery has not played a full first-team game, or indeed a full game at any level, since the autumn, when a weak neck ligament gave way for the umpteenth time, forcing him out of England's World Cup qualifiers against the Netherlands and Italy.

Most Gloucester watchers had reluctantly written him out of the script until next season and Clive Woodward, the national coach, must have been close to doing something similar. But Vickery, whose brute strength and trencherman's appetite for life at the eye of the storm made him one of the few English successes in the southern hemisphere last summer, completed an encouraging 20 minutes in a second-string club game last week and has suffered no ill effects from a sharp upturn in his training regime.

Philippe Saint-Andre, the Gloucester player-coach, said yesterday that he wanted to give a number of players the chance to prove their fitness, hence his decision to break with habit and name a squad rather than a starting line-up. Richie Tombs has recovered from knee trouble and should return to midfield, but there is still mild concern over three tight forwards. Andy Deacon, who has performed the Vickery role these last five months, is struggling with shin trouble, while Rob Fidler, an England lock last summer, has rib problems. Sims, the club captain, should be fit after suffering a blow to the head three weeks ago.

The Irish international selectors have reacted to the more significant Five Nations blow dealt by Scotland in Edinburgh last month by changing half their side for next weekend's awkward Test with Italy at Lansdowne Road. The major casualties are two front-rowers, Keith Wood and Paul Wallace, both of whom would have challenged for a World XV at the start of the tournament.

Wood is replaced by Ross Nesdale, the New Zealand-born hooker from Newcastle, while Wallace concedes his tight-head berth to Peter Clohessy, who moves across from loose-head. Both big names drop to the bench, with Justin Fitzpatrick, the Dungannon loosehead who helped Ulster to their famous European Cup triumph in January, getting a rare start at the sharp end.

There are two further changes to the pack, both in the back row: Dion O'Cuinneagain moves from blind-side flanker to the open side to replace Andy Ward while Victor Costello starts at No 8 instead of the injured Eric Miller. Trevor Brennan of St Mary's College completes the trio.

Outside the scrum, Ciaran Scally gets a chance at scrum-half - Conor McGuinness is among the replacements, while Rob Henderson of Wasps eases out his great rival, Jonathan Bell, in the centre. At outside-half, Eric Elwood fills in for another injured first choice, David Humphreys.

Meanwhile, Adrian Hadley yesterday confirmed he would not be a candidate for the vacant coaching post at Sale. The former Wales wing has been appointed head of rugby in the wake of John Mitchell's resignation on Wednesday, but does not want to commit himself to full-time coaching.

Ireland team (v Italy, Landsdowne Road, 10 April): C O'Shea; J Bishop, K Maggs, R Henderson, G Dempsey; E Elwood, C Scally; J Fitzpatrick, R Nesdale, P Clohessy, P Johns (capt), J Davidson, T Brennan, D O'Cuinneagain, V Costello.

n Jonah Lomu is taking an insurance company to court over a sickness claim after he was out of the game for a year with a kidney disease. The All Black winger is suing the company for failing to accept his health insurance claim for nephrotic syndrome.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
News
i100
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin