Back injury likely to rule Healey out of early challenges

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The Independent Online

The recurrence of a back injury will force Austin Healey to miss the start of the Zurich Premiership season.

The Leicester winger and scrum-half also has a disciplinary hearing set for 6 September relating to comments made in his newspaper column during the Lions tour this summer.

Healey is currently undergoing treatment on his back and does not expect to feature for the Tigers until the end of September.

"My back is still a problem and I have still got a slight dead leg," he said. "But apart from that I am not too bad. I won't be starting the season but I will be there or thereabouts three or four weeks into the season.

"I am just having physio and easy training. I can only see me being back in the thick of it all at the end of September probably – we shall just have to see."

The Saracens fly-half Jannie De Beer could be out of action for six weeks after injuring medial ligaments in a friendly. The South African had a scan on his knee after a game against Edinburgh at the weekend and the results were not good news for the club chief executive François Pienaar, who must now look for a replacement.

Pienaar had been expecting Thomas Castaignéde to be fit for the start of the season and so had not arranged for back-up but the French full-back's summer rehabilitation did not go as planned and he had an operation on his Achilles tendon last week, which rules him out for six months.

"We were led to believe that Thomas would be fit in the early stages of the season so there was no need for back-up for Jannie," Pienaar said. "Jannie's injury is a huge disappointment as he was looking so good and was instrumental in everything that Saracens did in the Edinburgh game.

"It is not the same injury that kept him out of the game for a year. He has seen the doctors and early indications are that he will be out for four to six weeks."

* New Zealand have named an unchanged squad for the Tri-Nations Test against South Africa in Auckland on Saturday week. The All Blacks selectors have stood by the 23 players who lost 23-15 to Australia in Dunedin last week.