Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Wood ruled out of Ireland clash

England's back-row resources have been stretched before they even depart for the World Cup after Tom Wood was forced to pull out of Saturday's final warm-up international against Ireland.

Wood, the Northampton flanker, has suffered what England manager Martin Johnson described as a "mild calf strain" and been replaced on the bench by Stade Francais lock Tom Palmer.

England opted for only five specialist loose forwards in their 30-man World Cup squad and are also without squad captain Lewis Moody, who is still recovering from a knee injury.

As a result, starting lock Courtney Lawes will provide the back-row cover while England go into the game with two specialist second rows on the bench in Palmer and the veteran Simon Shaw.

"Tom wants to play and he's annoyed that he's not playing but where we are and where we are going, it's the right call for him not to play," said Johnson.

England are also monitoring the fitness of number eight Nick Easter, who is understood to have had a scan on a suspected tight calf.

As with Wood, and with Chris Ashton when he rolled his ankle ahead of the Wales game a fortnight ago, Johnson is unlikely to take any risks this close to the World Cup.

But the England management are confident Easter will be fit to play.

The RFU later confirmed that Sale flanker Hendre Fourie, who missed out on World Cup selection, had linked up with the squad to provide cover for Easter.


From Belfast Telegraph