Ryan Lamb ban could stretch Leicester

 

Leicester, the reigning English champions, have some serious rugby ahead of them over the next month: a humdinger derby with high-performing Northampton this weekend, quickly followed by a horribly difficult Heineken Cup trip to Belfast, a must-win home match with Treviso in the same competition and an awkward Premiership contest at Wasps – a game they will have to play without their England personnel, who will be in red-rose camp by then.

Under the circumstances they could have done without an outbreak of pugilistic excess in a second-string fixture with Gloucester United on Monday night. The outside-half Ryan Lamb, a former Gloucester player, was sent off along with the visiting front-rower Koree Britton and is expected to face a Rugby Football Union disciplinary tribunal later this week.

There was trouble at the end of the first half, during the interval and again at the start of the second period, when Lamb and Britton were dismissed for trading blows. If the 27-year-old playmaker picks up any significant ban for his part in the mayhem, Leicester could easily find themselves exposed in the No 10 department.

Lamb started a couple of early-season games in the absence of the injured club captain, Toby Flood. While Flood is back now, his recent fitness record is not the best. In addition, he is one of the three outside-halves in Stuart Lancaster's senior international squad and may not be released back to Leicester for the Wasps game, which takes place less than a week before England's opening autumn Test, against Australia at Twickenham.

Should Flood and Lamb both be unavailable to the champions, the rugby director Richard Cockerill – currently serving a "touchline ban" himself – would have to choose between the New Zealand midfielder Dan Bowden, who has spent precious little time at outside-half since joining the club from London Irish, and the young Welsh import Owen Williams, who has made just three senior appearances off the bench.

Meanwhile, the former Bath coach Steve Meehan has landed a new job in Brisbane, his home town, with Queensland Reds. Among the brightest attack coaches in the game, Meehan will link up with Richard Graham, who also spent time at the Rec. Until recently, he was working on the other side of the country with Western Force – an operation headed up by a third former Bath coach, Michael Foley.

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