Stuart Abbott presented England head coach Clive Woodward with another injury headache ahead of the Six Nations yesterday when the Wasps centre hobbled out of his team's comprehensive Heineken Cup victory over Calvisano.
Abbott went over on his left ankle, the same joint he injured against New Zealand Barbarians in December. The South Africa-born centre had just returned from his month-long lay-off after the original ankle injury. He played for little more than an hour in his comeback match in a Pool Six match against Celtic Warriors last week.
Yesterday he lasted barely 14 minutes. Later, Abbott confirmed: "It's the same ankle, but it doesn't feel as sore this time. I still think I will be out for between two to three weeks." That will take him up to England's opening Six Nations game against Italy in Rome on 15 February.
Abbott missed out on a modest try fest, as Wasps attempted to score as many touchdowns as possible since they could prove crucial with the prospect of three teams in the group - Wasps, Perpignan, whom the Wycombe-based club visit for their final match next Sunday, and Celtic Warriors - all finishing on 20 points.
"We have to win down there," said Warren Gatland, Wasps' director of rugby, when invited to consider all the permutations. "We could have done with a couple more tries today." So eager were they to pile them up that they eventually eschewed the conversions to give them more time to cross the Calvisano line. Left wing John Rudd scored a hat-trick - although he then contrived to drop his man of the match award afterwards.
It was not a bad performance, all things considered. Calvisano were not the pushover the score might have suggested, and they created a couple of great chances as well; as putting the Wasps pack under a certain amount of pressure early on exemplified.
Wasps were without the injured Scotland wing Kenny Logan as well as six other international players, including Lawrence Dallaglio, who revealed at the weekend that he has signed a new two-year deal, but they still looked far too good. They, too, created bundles of chances, but a resolute Italian defence kept them out, despite conceding a shedload of penalties.
And while they were down to 14 men on two occasions, one in each half, Wasps took full advantage running in two tries on the first occasion and three on the second. Calvisano had the last word, with a try of their own by right wing Emiliano Mulieri.
Wasps: Tries Penalty, Rudd 3, Erinle, O'Connor, Payne; Conversions King 4; Penalty King. Calvisano: Try Mulieri; Conversion Fraser; Penalties Fraser 2.
Wasps: M Van Gisbergen (S Roiser, 78); T Voyce, S Abbott (A Erinle, 15), M Denney, J Rudd; A King, P Richards (H Biljon, 72); T Payne (A McKenzie, 69), T Leota (B Gotting, 64), W Green, M Purdy, G Skivington , P Volley (capt; M Lock, 69), J Worsley (I Clarke, 79), J O'Connor.
Calvisano: P Vaccari (M Ravazzolo, h-t); E Mulieri, A Vodo (G Raineri,78), C Zanoletti, N Mazzuccato; G Fraser, P Canavosio (P Griffen, 64); D Davo (G De Carli, h-t), A Moretti, M Castrogiovanni (S Perugini, 54), M Ngauamo (R Mandelli, 70), L Mastrodomenico (J Purll, 54), C Mayerhofler, A De Rossi (capt), M Zaffiri.
Referee: R Dickson (Scotland).Reuse content