PHIL VICKERY'S hopes of returning from his latest neck injury in time for the Six Nations Championship have gone after London Wasps revealed that he will not be fit to start training for at least a further eight weeks.
The England prop and former captain was hurt playing against Racing Metro in an Amlin Challenge Cup tie in October. After surgery, Vickery had hoped to resume playing this month.
Wasps director of rugby Tony Hanks said that Vickery had not suffered a setback from his operation and that initial estimates of the recovery time were always likely to be fluid.
"He had pretty major and invasive surgery," Hanks said. "His rehab is going well. If it takes an extra two or three weeks to make him right long term, we will do that.
"We don't want him to finish this season; we want him to have next year as well and the World Cup would be a great way to go out."
The 33-year-old has repeatedly come back from serious back surgery, not least in 2003 on his way to a World Cup winner's medal. Hanks's comments suggest that the next World Cup in 2011 in New Zealand remains in his sights.
The club's match away to Leicester today was the only fixture to survive the bad weather.
Worcester Warriors' game against London Irish fell victim to the snow and ice yesterday afternoon. Despite the Sixways pitch having been covered since Christmas, referee Chris White inspected the surface yesterday and ruled it unfit because wind had got under the covers and had frozen the dead-ball areas.
"Player welfare has to be our prime concern and with no improvement in the forecast and therefore the conditions, we had no option but to postpone the match," Phil Winstanley, the rugby director at Premier Rugby, said.
©The Times, London