Lawrence Dallaglio will play no further part in the British and Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand after fracturing and dislocating his ankle in the tour-opening match against Bay of Plenty in Rotorua yesterday.
The 32-year-old, who slipped when arriving at a tackle 20 minutes into the first half, retired from international rugby last year but was considered the favourite for the Lions No 8 shirt in the forthcoming Test series against the All Blacks. Capped 73 times by England and part of the 2003 World Cup-winning side, he toured with the Lions to South Africa in 1997, sharing in a rare series victory, and to Australia in 2001. Having been invalided home four years ago with a serious knee problem - and having led England's unhappy and losing tour to New Zealand last summer - he was desperate to play a full part in securing the Lions' second series win in the country and quickly emerged as a key lieutenant to the tour captain Brian O'Driscoll.
He will now be replaced on by the Ireland flanker Simon Easterby, leaving the current England captain Martin Corry, the Wales captain Michael Owen and Scotland's Simon Taylor to compete for the Test No 8 shirt. "I am gutted for Lawrence," said Sir Clive Woodward, the Lions' head coach. "Since we both stepped down from the England team all we have been talking about is the Lions. I have never seen him in better shape, physically or mentally." Dallaglio played a prominent part in a bright opening to the Lions' first game in New Zealand - he had been an unused bench replacement for the drawn warm-up against Argentina in Cardiff - and when he left the field the tourists were 17-7 up.
That turned to 17-17 at the break. "Lawrence was vice-captain and pack leader and we lost a bit of composure," said Woodward, after Corry and the Ireland lock Paul O'Connell had marshalled a second-half recovery to squeeze their aggressive and skilful hosts out of the game. Josh Lewsey stood out in the first and last 20 minutes thanks to corresponding periods of domination up front. In the first 20, the Wasps full-back scored two tries and his England team-mate Mark Cueto one. In the last, to add to scores from Wales' Tom Shanklin and Dwayne Peel, Lewsey broke to provide Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy with the best try of the match. "When I was young I dreamed of playing for the Lions," said Lewsey afterwards. "It's a higher accolade than being picked for your country." No one, sadly, knows that better than Dallaglio.Reuse content