I thought it was just a winding, admits Tindall

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The Independent Online

Mike Tindall, the Gloucester and England centre, spoke yesterday about the freak injury which has put him out of the Six Nations Championship.

It happened against Wales at Twickenham a week ago on Saturday and left Tindall with a tear in his liver, a punctured lung and damaged ribs. He was in intensive care for 48 hours.

It is still not known when Tindall will be able to resume playing. Right now he is under strict orders to take things easy for the next three weeks.

"I can't do any training. At the moment all I can do is walk the dog," he said. "You can't rush these things. You can't mess around with anything like this. As long as the haematoma around the liver resolves itself then I should be OK. There is no timescale for a return to playing as yet."

Tindall, who was remarkably cheerful for someone who has suffered his sixth serious injury in the past four years, is to see his specialist at the end of the month for a further assessment.

But, echoing Mark Twain's response to reading his own obituary, he said that reports of his near-death experience were exaggerated. "I didn't nearly die as some reports would have had people believing," Tindall said.

"I'd lost a fair amount of blood to start with, and if the bleeding hadn't stopped the surgeons would have had to repair the tear in the liver."

For all the gravity of the injury, Tindall said he was pretty well free of pain at the time it happened. "I did have some difficulty breathing, that is because of a small pneumothorax, but I wasn't in any great pain, and you usually judge these things on the level of pain you experience. It was very much like being winded. At the time that is all I thought it was, that I had been badly winded, with perhaps a rib injury thrown in."

Tindall has not had the best of luck with injuries. Since 2003 he has suffered ruptured ankle ligaments, torn abdominal muscles and a broken foot; he has had reconstructive surgery on a shoulder, broken a leg and now this unusual injury.

"It was a freak injury. A millimetre either way and I would have rolled harmlessly off the Welsh player's boot. I can't say I am not annoyed, because it is yet another untimely injury that I didn't need."

Dean Ryan, the Gloucester head coach, said: "Tindall is a huge loss to Gloucester and England. He is one of those players around whom the foundations of Gloucester's success are based."

Steve Borthwick, who captained England to their narrow win against Italy in Rome on Sunday is struggling with a knee injury and is doubtful for Bath's Premiership match at home to Wasps on Saturday and also for next weekend's Six Nations game against France in Paris.

France have recalled fullback Clément Poitrenaud, and have included another Toulouse player, the uncapped lock Romain Millo-Chlusky, in their squad for the match against England.

There is also a recall for second row Pascal Pape, now with Stade Français, while Arnaud Méla and Loïc Jacquet, who featured against Ireland on Saturday, have been dropped.

But there is still no place for the vastly experienced prop Sylvain Marconnet, who has 71 caps, or for centre Yannick Jauzion. The France coach, Marc Lièvremont, said of Marconnet, who has made just three appearances as a replacement for Stade since returning from a leg injury: "I have seen Sylvain come back, but it is not reasonable to integrate him into the group for an international match like this."

The England hooker George Chuter has agreed a new contract with Leicester after rejecting overtures from several other clubs.

France squad

France squad to face England in Six Nations Championship on 23 February at Stade de France, Paris:

Backs: M Parra (Bourgoin), J-B Elissalde (Toulouse), F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), D Skrela (Stade Français), D Traille (Biarritz), D Marty (Perpignan), V Clerc (Toulouse), A Rougerie (Clermont Auvergne), C Heymans, C Poitrenaud (both Toulouse).

Forwards: J Brugnaut (Dax), L Faure (Sale), N Mas (Perpignan), D Szarzewski (Stade Français), W Servat, R Millo-Chlusky (both Toulouse), P Pape (Stade Français), L Nallet (Castres, capt), J Bonnaire (Clermont Auvergne), T Dusautoir (Toulouse), F Ouedraogo, L Picamoles (both Montpellier).