RUGBY: England's prospects for a successful autumn have diminished after Manu Tuilagi was ruled out of the entire QBE Series at Twickenham with a groin injury.
England's head coach Stuart Lancaster names his 33-man elite player squad Wednesday knowing he has been robbed of his main strike weapon for the Tests against New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia.
The gloomy medical update on Tuilagi was delivered by Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill, who stressed the British and Irish Lions centre will not be rushed back in the hope of playing a reduced role for England next month.
Tuilagi limped off after 15 minutes of Saturday's 25-18 Champions Cup victory over Ulster with scans revealing a different groin problem to the one that forced him to miss three Aviva Premiership games last month.
Door open: Gatland
RUGBY: Welsh boss Warren Gatland has told autumn Test selection casualties Adam Jones and James Hook that "the door is not closed" on their international futures.
Despite boasting more than 170 caps between them, Cardiff Blues prop Jones - a triple Six Nations Grand Slam winner - and Gloucester fly-half Hook have not been chosen among a 34-man squad for appointments with Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa next month.
Ospreys prop Nicky Smith is the solitary uncapped player, with Sam Warburton confirmed as captain, while Wales' France-based players - Leigh Halfpenny, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips, Luke Charteris and Dan Lydiate - also feature.
Phil plots Oz scalp
CRICKET: Phil Simmons is looking forward to Ireland pitting their wits against Australia when the world's best ODI side visit Belfast for a 50-overs match on next summer.
Australia will come across the Irish Sea in the wake of an Ashes series with England and are likely to include stars of the calibre of David Warner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin and Shane Watson in their line-up at Stormont.
For coach Simmons it will be a chance to avenge a 39-run defeat by Australia in Dublin four years ago when chasing 232 for victory, Ireland were 80-0 and later 137-3 before collapsing.
"That defeat hurt, because we all knew the game was there for the taking," Simmons said.