Wednesday 22 November 2017

English silent over Flutey and Shaw

Chris Hewett

England's rugby authorities will go out of their way to honour the British armed forces before this weekend's significant meeting with the Wallabies at Twickenham.

They should be honouring MI5 instead, for it is the spooks, not the soldiers, who have left their mark on their national team. Not for the first time, the injury situation appears to be subject to the Official Secrets Act: there was no mention yesterday of the two Wasps players, Riki Flutey and Simon Shaw, who missed the defeat by New Zealand because of calf trouble.

Even if Shaw was fit, he would struggle to break up the second-row partnership of Tom Palmer and the hard-hitting youngster Courtney Lawes; indeed, the Lions lock might not even find his way on to the bench, given Dave Attwood's impressive cameo against New Zealand.

Flutey is a different matter, though. With the England midfield continuing to fire blanks, the centre would be a candidate for the inside-centre role.

The back-room staff did admit to one injury concern. Captain Lewis Moody took a fair old battering from the All Blacks -- his grapple with Jerome Kaino in the first half was followed in the second by a painful tete-a-tete with the Auckland hooker Keven Mealamu, who was subsequently cited for butting.

Mealamu, uncomfortable in the knowledge a guilty verdict might rule him out of the remainder of his team's Grand Slam tour, pleaded innocence yesterday, and was backed by his coach, Graham Henry. "He's probably the cleanest player in the world, isn't he?" said Henry.

Brian O'Driscoll might beg to differ, given Mealamu's role in the infamous 'spear tackle' during the Lions tour of New Zealand in 2005. With Moody suffering from a little-known condition described as "general soreness", the coaches called in Tom Wood of Northampton as cover. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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