Shoulder trouble keeps Williams on sidelines

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The Independent Online

Heinrich Brussow's spectacular performance for the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday underlined the Lions' issues in the open-side flanker department ahead of the forthcoming series with the Springboks. And those issues were not eased yesterday when Martyn Williams, the most creative loose forward in the party, was ruled out of Wednesday's game against KwaZulu-Natal Sharks because of continuing problems with a shoulder injury.

Assuming the tourists have no intention of repeating the unsuccessful experiment of playing Joe Worsley in the open-side position, or of asking the Irish blind-side specialist Stephen Ferris to try his hand in the role, it seems David Wallace, a narrow favourite for the Test place, will have to play here, instead of against Western Province on Saturday – the obvious game for a first-team run-out.

Williams is expected to be fit for this weekend's match in Cape Town, by which time Riki Flutey, the England centre, should be back in the mix. Flutey, who picked up a nasty knee injury during the opening match in Rustenburg and has spent the last few days having two-hourly cold therapy treatments around the clock, was expected to resume full training today.

James Robson, the Lions doctor, revealed another Rustenburg casualty, Irish centre Keith Earls, had been far more seriously hurt than initially acknowledged. "Keith had the kind of shoulder injury you would associate with a car accident," he said. "There was a lot of bleeding into the muscle, and blood is a nasty substance, almost like acid, when it isn't in the right place.

"I thought Keith would be the first man out of South Africa, but it is testament to his determination that he is still with us. I was delighted for him when he scored his try against the Cheetahs."