The last thing England need ahead of a Test match against Argentina, the most powerful scrummaging side in world rugby, is a zero-option situation in the tight-head prop department, so confirmation that the new cornerstone of the red-rose pack, David Wilson of Bath, is doubtful for this weekend's meeting with the South Americans at Twickenham amounts to a selectorial catastrophe. The cupboard is utterly bare – Old Mother Hubbard would have considered herself better off than the national manager Martin Johnson – hence the decision to summon Paul Doran-Jones of Gloucester, whose Premiership career is precisely 266 minutes old.
Doran-Jones has an intriguing past. Born in Ireland, for whom he played age-group rugby as a 19-year-old, he arrived at Kingsholm after spells with the Lansdowne club in Dublin and the King Country province in New Zealand – Johnson's old muckers – along with Leinster, London Welsh and, briefly, Wasps. If he has rarely hit the headlines as a rugby player, he certainly managed it as a schoolboy after being implicated, along with his fellow A-Level student and future England flanker James Haskell, in the production of what might best be described as a "steamy" video, which was shown in the sixth-form common room.
Ironically, England may soon find themselves in a similar state to those appearing in the film. At 24, Doran-Jones is said to have considerable potential; indeed, Dean Ryan, who signed him for Gloucester before leaving his job as director of rugby during the summer, saw him as a valuable addition to the Cherry and White pack. But Doran-Jones was drafted in as an understudy to the All Black front-rower Greg Somerville, not as a Test prop in waiting. His appearance in Johnson's squad is little short of flabbergasting.
Wilson, who suffered what the England medics are describing as a "neck/shoulder injury" while tackling the Wallaby captain Rocky Elsom during the second half of last weekend's defeat by Australia, may yet be fit to face the Argentines, even if he is restricted to bench duty. There again, he was in considerable pain when he left the field at the weekend. If the worst comes to the worst and another Bath prop, Duncan Bell, has to start the game, Johnson may have little choice but to select Doran-Jones as one of his replacements.
Unsurprisingly under the circumstances, Johnson announced a 24-hour delay in naming his side, which could show changes at No 8 – the aforementioned Haskell is pushing for a starting role in the back row ahead of Jordan Crane – and second row, although there was no sign yesterday of a recall for Simon Shaw, the Lions lock who has just returned from injury.
Meanwhile, the Pumas congregated in London for their first training session yesterday. Lucas Amorosino, their wing, is considered a serious doubt having picked up a calf injury while playing for Leicester in their Anglo-Welsh Cup defeat at Leeds on Sunday. Already shorn of the outside-half Juan Martin Hernandez, the centre Felipe Contepomi and another wing in Gonzalo Camacho, the Argentines are now struggling to field a truly representative back division.
"We have a lot of injuries to very important players," admitted the coach, Santiago Phelan, "and it is not good for us to be without Juan Martin and Felipe. But it is not an excuse, having injured players. England have injuries too – it is something common to both teams – and as always when this happens, there are opportunities for other players coming up."Reuse content