Ruck and Maul: Flutey can make history as the first to play for and against Lions

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The Independent Online

Riki Flutey, who was not alone in his anonymity when England endured an awful autumn, has suddenly become a contender as a man for all seasons. Flutey, who found his feet in the resounding victory over France, is now a front-runner to make Lions history. The New Zealand Maori came off the replacements' bench for Wellington in their 23-6 defeat by the Lions in 2005. It was a rare moment of triumph for Sir Clive Woodward's tourists. Afterwards, Flutey joined London Irish in the Guinness Premiership before moving to Wasps where, of course, he linked up with Ian McGeechan. The Scotsman finalises his squad next month for the tour to South Africa and Flutey is in line to become the first player to appear both against and for the Lions. "It is the ultimate goal," Flutey said. "When I was a kid my father had all the old Lions tapes." Flutey, who qualified for England on a three-year residency, added that playing for England came as a shock to the system. "On the paddock I'm all about communicating, but playing in front of such huge crowds you can hardly hear [team-mates]. You are often yelling for lost causes. I haven't had any stick for quite some time now about being a Kiwi. They're more comfortable with me being around."

Better off without Wilko?

The Australian Brad Walker has brought out a book titled 'The Anatomy of Sports Injuries' which contains 300 full-colour illustrations of some grisly tearings and partings of gristle, bone and flesh. Jonny Wilkinson is not really in need of it as bedtime reading. He could have written it. Just as England were awaiting the reappearance of the 2003 World Cup winner following his latest operation, the restoration of a dislocated kneecap, the leg swells up and he's back with the physio. The good news is he may get a run against Leicester next Friday, but the bad is Newcastle have been doing rather well without him. Tom May has flourished at No 10 and, according to the club's coach, Steve Bates, Jamie Noon – out of the England loop – has been "on fire". "We are in exactly the same position we have always been in with Jonny," Bates said. "That is, to get himself fit and concentrate on that... we are assuming he'll be with us next season." It's a big assumption.

Scots video a real turn-off

As if the Calcutta Cup match did not have enough riding on it yesterday – let's forget for the moment Bannockburn and Culloden – the England captain, Steve Borthwick, turned up the heat with his comments about how "ungracious" the Scots were last season when they won at Murrayfield. "There were certain things I'll never forget," Borthwick said. "They made no disguise in rubbing in the fact that they'd beaten England." Well, there's a surprise. Frank Hadden, the Scotland coach, said he didn't have a clue what Borthwick was banging on about. Was it the haggis or the neeps and tatties that got up England's noses? Or was it a post-match dinner video showing "great Scottish rugby moments"? Surely not. The film would have been a brief encounter.

t.glover@independent.co.uk

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