Robbo receives injury reprieve

Andy Robinson was in an upbeat mood following the good news that the list of injured England internationals is decreasing steadily.

The first England training session of the season only saw 17 out of a 40-man elite squad on the paddock, with that number only slightly improving last week at 23.

But England have now been boosted with the return of 20-year-old centre Mathew Tait, who has fully recovered from cartilage surgery to his knee. 2003 World Cup winners Lawrence Dallaglio and Phil Vickery are also fit and have resumed playing with London Wasps, aiding their club to a 23-13 victory over London Irish on Sunday in the EDF Energy Cup.

Utility back Andy Farrell has likewise been instructed to play a few games for his side Saracens before joining the England training squad. Robinson was understandably pleased with this recovery rate ahead of the big match-up against the All Blacks on 5 November.

“Over the next month there will be a lot of competition for places and it’s great to have these players available ahead of selection for the New Zealand game,” Robinson said.

“We had a really positive and productive three days last week and with more players able to train now, we are looking forward to our final day together.”

The Springboks play the Poms on 18 and 25 November, and so will be keeping a close collective eye on that fluctuating England injury list. The Boks have rediscovered some winning form by beating both the All Blacks and the Wallabies in the final two matches of the Vodacom Tri-Nations, and are also the favourites to beat Ireland at home.

But having not won a Test at Twickenham since 1997, they travel to London as underdogs, and will thus take any advantage they can over the English.