Triumphant pack back to boost Tigers' challenge

By David Llewellyn
Thursday 27 November 2003 01:00

It was all or nothing for the England players in last Saturday's Rugby World Cup final, and yesterday there was a similar approach when it came to playing for their clubs.

The Leicester Tigers have named all seven of their national players in the squad to face Bath in the Premiership clash at Welford Road on Saturday, while Northampton Saints have given their trio of World Cup winners, Matt Dawson, Steve Thompson and Paul Grayson, a little more time to recover.

The loss of seven key members of their pack - Martin Johnson, Neil Back, Ben Kay, Martin Corry, Lewis Moody, Dorian West and Julian White - is one reason why Leicester are at present lying in ninth place in the Premiership, and why their England men have all made themselves available for the Bath match.

White, West and Corry only played small parts in the World Cup campaign so are still fresh while Back, Johnson and Kay have told the director of rugby Dean Richards they want to be considered for the match. But another World Cup player, the United States No 8 Dan Lyle, who joined the Tigers in the summer, last night announced his retirement from professional rugby with immediate effect.

Welford Road is already sold out for Saturday. The 1,000 tickets which were still on sale before the World Cup final kicked off were snapped up within five minutes of England's World Cup triumph.

Meanwhile, the Tigers scrum-half Harry Ellis, who was banned for 10 weeks on Monday after pleading guilty to striking the Sale wing Steve Hanley with his head, is to have his appeal against the sentence heard in Portsmouth tonight.

The South African Sports Minister, Ngconde Balfour, yesterday called for next year's King Inquiry into racism in rugby to incorporate an investigation into "Kamp Staaldraad" after it was revealed that the Springboks spent three days at the camp, where they were forced to strip naked and exercise in a freezing lake.

London Irish said last night that the No 8 Chris Sheasby - contrary to a report after a Rugby Football Union disciplinary hearing earlier this month - will not make a full recovery from the eye injury suffered against Sale on 31 October.

The statement added that Sheasby would "have a permanent level of visual impairment that is yet to be ascertained..." after having part of his iris removed in an emergency operation.

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