Healey to turn part-time

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The Independent Online

Austin Healey, the Leicester and England utility back is to end his full-time rugby career at the end of the season. Healey wants to go part-time with the Tigers next season so that he can concentrate more on his media career.

Healey, who won 51 England caps, said: "I'm not packing rugby in, I'm toning it down as a player and adopting a similar role to Kyran Bracken at Saracens. Maybe I will manage around 10 games a season.

"My injuries are starting to accumulate now," the 32-year-old added, "and after this season, I will need the whole summer to recover for next season."

Iain Balshaw is half a dozen years younger than the "Leicester Lip" but the physical nature of rugby has plagued his career. Yesterday the Leeds and England full-back was dealt yet another blow when he was forced to undergo abdominal surgery. Balshaw will out of action for an unspecified period.

The problem has almost certainly ruled Balshaw out of England's 2006 Six Nations campaign and there is no guarantee the Tykes' captain, who last appeared in action in October, will play again for Leeds this season.

"We are not putting any timescale on when he will return to action," said the Leeds director of rugby, Phil Davies. "We are going to make sure he is 100 per cent before he returns to training and playing, and ensure that he will be able to have a long-term future at the club."

Balshaw, who has won 24 England caps, has been dogged by injuries. At Bath he had to have surgery to each shoulder, underwent an operation on an ankle, and suffered a calf injury after joining Leeds last year.

A thigh strain he picked up in Leeds' triumphant Powergen Cup final against Bath in April cost him a place in last summer's British and Irish Lions squad.

Sale's French No 8 Sébastien Chabal has agreed a new contract that will keep him with the Premiership leaders for three years.

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