Thursday, June 05, 2008
First, Jonny Wilkinson. Then Danny Cipriani. The replacements were named. Then come last weekend, it all went a little pear shaped again with Rob Andrew and Martin Johnson surely pulling their hair out as they watched three of their potential backline kingpins leave the field with facial injuries.
With the upcoming tour of New Zealand, England faces the daunting task of playing the All Blacks at home. That's difficult enough. Add injuries into the equation, and it's fair to say preparation hasn't been ideal.
Dan Hipkiss suffered a fractured cheekbone in the Premiership final against Wasps, and he is now out the tour, along with wing Paul Sackey. Dominic Waldouck and Tom Varndell will be their respective replacements. Hipkiss actually got an accidental elbow from his teamate, prop Julian White.
In the Barbarians game on the weekend, both Charlie Hodgson and Toby Flood took big knocks to the face. Hodgson required 13 stitches after a collision with Jerry Collins, and Flood took a blow to the head from a Pedrie Wanneburg tackle that looked more clumsy then malicious. Both players left the field, but have fortunately recovered and will be going on tour.
It was a weekend that could have ended so differently, but luckily for England, and the tour as a whole, only one of the three knocks resulted in omission from the tour.
What it did show though was just how quickly things can change, and that a few injuries can devastate a tour.
There's no doubt England can recover from losing Wilkinson and Cipriani. The question is if Hodgson will step up and prove to the world that he is still good enough to be the kingpin against one of the toughest oppositions in world rugby.
This clip is simply to show the injuries and create a bit of a discussion point regarding the tour.