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.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn