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.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas