Woodward allows Robinson to delay New Zealand flight

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Jason Robinson is to delay his departure with the British and Irish Lions squad in order to spend more time with his pregnant wife, Amanda. Robinson will now fly to New Zealand early next month.

Jason Robinson is to delay his departure with the British and Irish Lions squad in order to spend more time with his pregnant wife, Amanda. Robinson will now fly to New Zealand early next month.

The Lions head coach, Sir Clive Woodward, agreed to Robinson's request, saying that delaying until early June would still give the Sale man time to prove he was worthy of a Test place.

Mrs Robinson is due to give birth in August and has recently been feeling unwell. Because of her pregnancy she is unable to fly and Robinson said she needed his support at this time. He would only worry about her anyway if he were on the other side of the world having left feeling less than 100 per cent. A player's mental fitness is as important as his physical state.

Woodward explained: "Jason is a strong family man and wants to spend as much time with Amanda as he can. This still gives him time to get out to New Zealand and make a major contribution to the tour."

Robinson, who has three children, said: "I have played a lot of rugby in recent months and with my wife pregnant, I want to spend this time with her and the children.

" I think that it is the right for the family, and the right preparation for me to be in the best possible shape when I get to New Zealand."

Robinson, who is certain to miss the opener against Bay of Plenty on 4 June, and possibly the second match against Taranaki on 8 June, is the third Lions player joining the tour late, the others being Welshmen Gareth Thomas and Stephen Jones who have commitments with their French clubs, Toulouse and Clermont Auvergne respectively.

Wayne Smith, the All Blacks assistant coach, who was monitoring the drawn match on Monday between a Lions XV and an inexperienced Argentina team, pronounced himself pleased that Jonny Wilkinson came through unscathed.

"He was very good. He didn't shy away from anything physical at all. He's back, he enters the contest now." But Smith insisted the All Blacks management and players were not drawing any significance from the Lions' performance. "I took plenty of notes but I don't think they are all that relevant. They were clearly resting most of their top combinations."

As for the open, running rugby they attempted, the former Northampton coach said he did not expect the Lions to adopt that Down Under, adding: "If we were involved in a warm-up type of game like that we'd be hiding what we were going to do as well."

Worcester's Pat Sanderson captains England against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday. Sanderson, the captain of Worcester, plays in a back row that contains another Premiership captain, Hugh Vyvyan of Wasps.

Harlequins, relegated to National League Division One at the end of the season have not lost much, if any, support. The club has reported that 2,500 season tickets have been sold to date - half the number that they sold as a Premiership club last season. And although they have subsequently reduced their prices, around 80 per cent of those supporters who have already purchased their tickets have waived any refund, instead instructing the club to add the surplus to club funds.

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