Saturday 24 March 2018

Wilkinson concern prompts England return for Hodgson

Chris Hewitt

Charlie Hodgson, the out-half who might have been a world-beater but for an unfortunate habit of getting beaten up in the tackle, reappeared in the England squad yesterday for the first time since being steamrollered by sundry All Blacks on the ill-starred tour of New Zealand in 2008.

The Sale player was called in as cover for Jonny Wilkinson, who withdrew from training with some vague form of "muscle tightness". There was no suggestion from the England camp, though, that Wilkinson might miss Saturday's game against Ireland.

Some of Hodgson's recent club rugby has been of the vintage variety -- "sublime", according to Sale manager Kingsley Jones -- and his return to the England fold, however temporary it turns out to be, will be welcomed by those who like their No 10s to have a little art and craft about them.

Two more old-stagers were added to the squad: Brive centre Jamie Noon and Lions flanker Joe Worsley. Noon was summoned because Leicester's Dan Hipkiss picked up an ankle injury during his club's Premiership victory over Gloucester at the weekend.

Worsley, who played a full game for Wasps in their defeat of Saracens on Sunday, has been on the fringes of the party since regaining full fitness earlier this month. England manager Martin Johnson is due to name his side today.

Meanwhile, Riki Flutey said last night that he would honour his contract and stay at Brive next season despite overtures from London Wasps and Munster. Speculation has been rife that the New Zealand-born England centre is ready to end his stay in France and move to Ireland or return to London to rejoin his former club, who have reportedly offered him a three-year deal.

Irish Independent

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