Leicester's failure to sign a top-grade international outside-half during the summer, when they moved heaven and earth in an attempt to sign Stephen Jones from Llanelli Scarlets but could not match the £200,000 a year thrown in his direction by the mega-rich Frenchmen of Montferrand, is already coming home to roost like an unwanted chicken, less than a month into the season.
Andy Goode, the Premiership's leading scorer after three rounds of matches, has a knee injury and is out of the big East Midlands derby with Northampton at Welford Road this weekend. This means that Ross Broadfoot, a teenager so wet behind the ears that he probably swims to training, is in.
Broadfoot, a 19-year-old goal-kicker capped by England at three age groups, joined Leicester from the London Irish academy and featured throughout his club's pre-season programme. But this will be his first start in the Premiership, a very different environment to any he has experienced - a competition populated by gnarled ogres rather than acne-ridden whippersnappers. It will be a serious test on all fronts: physical, mental, emotional.
Goode pranged himself during last weekend's comprehensive victory at London Irish, and was found to have damaged medial and cruciate ligaments.
Leicester have the Samoan Test player Roger Warren on their books, but he has been ill in recent days and was not considered. John Wells, the coach, had other alternatives: he might have shifted Austin Healey from wing to stand-off, or even played the brilliant Geordan Murphy in the pivot position; but in the event, he settled on Broadfoot.
"Ross is good enough for us to think he can do the job," Wells said. "This is a massive stage for him, but at the same time there is no better stage because he will have a lot of help and support around him."
Those helpers will include Martin Johnson, Neil Back and Daryl Gibson, outstanding internationals all. Ben Kay, one of England's World Cup-winning locks 10 months ago, will also be there, having reclaimed his place in the engine-room from Louis Deacon.
Another Test lock, the Scotland captain Scott Murray, will probably miss all four of his country's international matches in November after breaking down in training. He underwent keyhole surgery on a knee injury yesterday and is unlikely to reappear much before Christmas.
The Japanese have announced their intention to bid for the 2011 World Cup, a tournament previously assumed to have been destined for South Africa. Koji Tokumasu, the secretary of the national union, said that the success of the 2002 football World Cup, which Japan shared with South Korea, had established his country as a major player in the hosting of international sporting events. "It is time for rugby to go global," he added.
Japan launched a professional rugby league last year. The competition regularly attracts crowds of 50,000-plus.
- More about:
- East Midlands
- Guinness Premiership
- London Irish (rugby)