Tag Archives: flanker

Heineken Cup quarter-final previews 2013

Your weekend guide to the Heineken Cup: Three English sides in the last eight

By
Rob Wildman

PUBLISHED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

Harlequins, Saracens and Leicester will be flying the flag for the Aviva Premiership in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals this weekend.

Here, Sportsmail tells you everything you need to know ahead of one of the most eagerly anticipated weekend's of the season…

Flying the flag: Manu Tuilagi starts for Leicester against Toulon

Flying the flag: Manu Tuilagi starts for Leicester against Toulon

Clermont Auvergne v Montpellier

(Saturday: Stade Marcel Micheli, 3.40pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Clermont are favourites to extend a run of 58 successive home wins. Wales’ Lee Byrne and Scotland’s Nathan Hines face Scot Johnnie Beattie.

PREDICTION: Home win.

Harlequins v Munster

(Sunday: The Stoop, 2pm, live on Sky Sports 2)

England captain Chris Robshaw returns for Quins’ bid for a first semi-final. Munster are boosted by return of lock Paul O’Connell and wing Simon Zebo.

PREDICTION: Home win.

Home tie: Owen Farrell is in the Saracens side to face Munster at Twickenham

Home tie: Owen Farrell is in the Saracens side to face Munster at Twickenham

Saracens v Ulster

(Saturday: Twickenham, 6.30pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Saracens opt for fly-half Owen Farrell over Charlie Hodgson. They also recall Scotland flanker Kelly Brown. Ulster welcome prop John Afoa.

PREDICTION: Home win.

Toulon v Leicester

(Sunday: Stade Felix Mayol, 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2)

Leicester name same starters for third week running. Toby Flood faces former Newcastle colleague in Jonny Wilkinson. Prop Andrew Sheridan starts.

PREDICTION: Away win.

Amlin Challenge Cup — quarter-final

Bath v Stade Francais

(Saturday: The Rec, 1pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Bath move Horacio Agulla to centre for Matt Banahan. Nick Abendanon returns on wing. Italy captain Sergio Parisse is in a Stade team alongside ex-Wallaby flanker David Lyons.

PREDICTION: Away win.

SIX NATIONS 2013: England XV to play France

Tuilagi recalled by Lancaster in one of three changes made by England for Le Crunch

By
Rob Wildman

PUBLISHED:

10:45 GMT, 21 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:15 GMT, 21 February 2013

Stuart Lancaster has urged England to vary their attack against France after confirming his team for Saturday’s RBS Six Nations match at Twickenham.

As predicted by Sportsmail this week England’s head coach has decided to make three changes for the third match en route to a possible Grand Slam.

Following the win over Ireland, Lancaster this morning announced he had recalled centre Manu Tuilagi, hooker Dylan Hartley and flanker Courtney Lawes.

Centre of attention: Manu Tuilagi runs with the ball during England training at Pennyhill Park on Tuesday

Centre of attention: Manu Tuilagi runs with the ball during England training at Pennyhill Park on Tuesday

ENGLAND TEAM TO FACE FRANCE:

15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Dylan Hartley, 3 Dan Cole, 4 Joe Launchbury, 5 Geoff Parling, 6 Courtney Lawes, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain).

Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 David Wilson, 19 James Haskell, 20 Thomas Waldrom, 21 Danny Care, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.

All three were substitutes in the win
in Dublin and replace Billy Twelvetrees, Tom Youngs and James Haskell
who are all on the bench this time.

Lancaster is looking to use the
firepower of the trio to tackle a French team who have had endure a
disastrous Six Nations so far in losing to Italy and Wales.

Lancaster explained: ‘We thought long and hard about changing a winning team which did so well against Ireland.

‘But we believe that Dylan, Courtney
and Manu are ready for the opportunity and allow us to vary our play,
while the bench will add impact and energy as the game unfolds in the
second half.

‘The players are really looking
forward to getting back to Twickenham. The atmosphere in the stadium is
fantastic and hopefully the crowd can get behind us in what is sure to
be a great challenge against a motivated and physical French team.’

Meanwhile, France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has made eight changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's match.

Making way: Billy Twelvetrees will be on the bench at Twickenham despite his superb show against Scotland

Making way: Billy Twelvetrees will be on the bench at Twickenham despite his superb show against Scotland

FRANCE TEAM TO FACE ENGLAND:

15 Yoann Huget, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Benjamin Fall, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra;
1 Thomas Domingo, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 3 Nicolas Mas, 4 Christophe Samson, 5 Yoann Maestri, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir (captain).

Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski,
17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Luc Ducalcon,
19 Jocelino Suta, 20 Antonie Claassen,
21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Frederic Michalak, 23 Florian Fritz.

Saint-Andre has opted for a new half-back pairing, with Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh-Duc replacing Maxime Machenaud and Frederic Michalak following Les Bleus' 16-6 defeat against Wales at the Stade de France 12 days ago.

Vincent Clerc returns on the right wing, with Wesley Fofana switching to his preferred role of centre for the Twickenham encounter.

Saint-Andre's team head to England after losing their opening two Five or Six Nations games for the first time since 1982.

Wales' success in Paris followed a 23-18 loss in Italy six days previously, meaning the wooden spoon has now become a distinct possibility for the pre-tournament favourites.

'After two defeats in the tournament, we wanted competition and freshness in the squad,' Saint-Andre said. 'We have to have the freshness and enthusiasm.

'We will prepare a lot of fight in Twickenham.'

SIX NATIONS 2013: Ben Morgan will play after ankle injury, says Stuart Lancaster

Morgan on mend after ankle injury and he could be back to face Italy, says Lancaster

By
Duncan Bech, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

16:00 GMT, 18 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:00 GMT, 18 February 2013

England coach Stuart Lancaster is confident Ben Morgan will play some part in the RBS Six Nations as the Gloucester No 8 continues his recovery from an ankle problem.

Morgan was injured in the opening-day victory over Scotland and has been pencilled in to return against Italy on March 10.

The 23-year-old has joined fly-half Freddie Burns on the sidelines, with his Gloucester team-mate receiving treatment for a knee problem.

Hopeful: Stuart Lancaster (left) believes Ben Morgan can return for England against Italy

Hopeful: Stuart Lancaster (left) believes Ben Morgan can return for England against Italy

'Morgan and Burns are making slow progress,' Lancaster said.

'Freddie is further down the line but they won’t play this weekend so it will be another week or so.

'Ben will be fine. It’s an ankle injury similar to the one Manu Tuilagi had. Manu was out for four or five weeks and Ben will be about the same.

'He wants to get himself right so he can push for selection against Italy.'

Centre Jonathan Joseph has been ruled out for two weeks with a toe injury, but full back Ben Foden has made good progress in his battle with ankle damage and will play for Northampton against Bath on Saturday.

In the mix: England centre Manu Tuilagi during today's training session

In the mix: England centre Manu Tuilagi during today's training session

Putting the boot in: Owen Farrell is getting his eye in while training

Putting the boot in: Owen Farrell is getting his eye in while training

Fly-half Toby Flood and flanker James Haskell missed training today because of a tight calf and flu respectively.

England resume their Six Nations against France on Saturday as the only team still capable of winning the Grand Slam.

Les Bleus limp into Twickenham on the back of successive defeats by Italy and Wales and with coach Philippe Saint-Andre under attack over selection but Lancaster insists they remain formidable opposition.

'If you look at their performances in the autumn, the three wins over Samoa, Argentina and Australia show they are not a bad side,' he said.

'They beat Australia 33-6 and Australia then beat us. While we’ll take something out of their first two Six Nations games, we’ll also take something out of those autumn internationals and make sure we’re ready for them.'

Quick feet: Mike Brown surges through the centre at Pennyhill Park this afternoon

Quick feet: Mike Brown surges through the centre at Pennyhill Park this afternoon

Captain fantastic: Chris Robshaw takes a breather during today's session

Captain fantastic: Chris Robshaw takes a breather during today's session

Comeback: Morgan pictured in his last game, against Scotland on February 2

Comeback: Morgan pictured in his last game, against Scotland on February 2

Six Nations 2013: Jonathan Sexton and Mike McCarthy injured and out of Scotland game

Blow for Ireland as Sexton and McCarthy are ruled out of Scotland clash

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

13:41 GMT, 14 February 2013

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UPDATED:

13:55 GMT, 14 February 2013

Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton and second row Mike McCarthy have been ruled out of the RBS 6 Nations clash with Scotland at Murrayfield on February 24.

Sexton sustained a hamstring problem and McCarthy knee ligament damage in Sunday's 12-6 defeat by England and team manager Mick Kearney announced today that they will miss the trip to Edinburgh.

'Jonny's scan revealed a grade two
hamstring injury. Progress has been good so far, but it's too early to
say when he will return to play,' Kearney said.

Crocked: Sexton hobbled off injured against England last weekend

Crocked: Sexton hobbled off injured against England last weekend

'Mike has hurt the medial ligament of
his right knee. It's quite sore and he will be in a brace for two
weeks. A further review will take place in two weeks.'

Ireland received more positive news on the remaining injuries they incurred during a brutal clash at the Aviva Stadium.

Centre Brian O'Driscoll, full-back Rob Kearney, flanker Sean O'Brien and lock Donnacha Ryan are at varying degrees of fitness, but all should be available to face Scotland.

'Brian had a recurrence of the soft tissue injury in his good ankle. Scans revealed no structural damage and he will do non-contact training today,' Kearney said.

Ruled out: McCarthy (centre) will also miss the Scotland clash

Ruled out: McCarthy (centre) will also miss the Scotland clash

'Donnacha Ryan suffered a lower back
muscle strain. Scans have excluded structural damage but he's quite sore
and won't train this week.

'He'll be reassessed at the weekend and at this stage he has a good chance of being available against Scotland.

'Sean O'Brien has recovered well from his stiff neck and tight hamstring and will train today.

'Rob is fine. He had a slight dead leg but trained fully today.'

Six Nations 2013: England name team to play Ireland

Twelvetrees, Barritt, Haskell and Youngs all start for England in Ireland… (as Sportsmail predicted)

By
Rob Wildman

PUBLISHED:

10:15 GMT, 8 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:19 GMT, 8 February 2013

We called it first…

Sportsmail's Chris Foy once again predicted England's line up correctly earlier this week

England confirmed this morning James Haskell will make his first in the Six Nations for two years when Stuart Lancaster’s team face Ireland, on Sunday, in Dublin.

The 27-year-old, who took himself off to play in Japan and New Zealand following England’s disastrous 2011 Rugby World Cup, starts at blindside flanker following the injury to Ben Morgan in last Saturday’s win over Scotland.

Tom Wood moves across to cover for Morgan at No 8 in a starting team which is otherwise unchanged from the one which beat Scotland 38-18.

Starting role: Haskell is given the nod at blindside with Wood moving to No 8

Starting role: Haskell is given the nod at blindside with Wood moving to No 8

ENGLAND (v Ireland, Dublin, Sunday, kick off 3pm):

Goode (Saracens);
Ashton (Saracens), Barritt (Saracens), Twelvetrees (Gloucester), Brown
(Harlequins); Farrell (Saracens), Ben Youngs (Leicester); Marler
(Harlequins), Tom Youngs (Leicester), Cole (Leicester), Launchbury
(Wasps), Parling (Leicester), Haskell (Wasps), Robshaw (Harlequins,
capt), Wood (Northampton).

Subs: Hartley (Northampton), Wilson (Bath), M Vunipola (Saracens), Lawes
(Northampton); Waldrom (Leicester), Care (Harlequins), Flood
(Leicester), Tuilagi (Leicester).

Haskell’s place on the bench from last week goes to Leicester’s Thomas Waldrom. Another new face among the reserves is centre Manu Tuilagi who takes over from David Strettle.

For head coach Lancaster, the biggest selection decision this week was whether to opt for fit-again Tuilagi over Billy Twelvetrees who had an impressive debut against Scotland.

But as predicted in Sportsmail this week he has opted to stay with the Gloucester player and Saracens’ Brad Barritt, leaving Tuilagi as an impact man to come off the bench. Lancaster has also decided to keep Tom Youngs at hooker ahead of Dylan Hartley.

For Haskell, who will be winning his 47th cap, it is vindication for his decision to return to England last spring and to rejoin his old club of Wasps.

Centre of attention: Barritt retains his place alongside Twelvetrees

Centre of attention: Barritt retains his place alongside Twelvetrees

His last start for England in the Six Nations came two years ago in the same game when Martin Johnson's team went to Dublin in search of a Grand Slam and lost.

Haskell, however, believes his world trip has made him a more ‘enriched person’ and spoke this week about a new mood in the England camp.

He said: ‘Running out to play for England is just as exciting as it ever was. I’ll keep playing for as long as they want me.’

Come in No 2: Tom Youngs starts ahead of Dylan Hartley at hooker

Come in No 2: Tom Youngs starts ahead of Dylan Hartley at hooker

Lancaster said he had made some difficult decisions. He explained: ‘With Manu coming back into the equation it gave us some selection decisions. But with the centres playing well last week and Manu still returning to match fitness, having not played for the last four weeks, he and others will give us great options from the bench in what I am sure will be a physical encounter.'

England also announced that they would be taking 24 players to Ireland for Sunday’s match as Sale’s uncapped prop Henry Thomas will act as travelling reserve.

Chris Robshaw has been named England skipper for the Six Nations as Stuart Lancaster keeps his faith in the flanker

Robshaw named England skipper for Six Nations as Lancaster keeps faith in flanker

By
Duncan Bech, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

19:53 GMT, 21 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

20:03 GMT, 21 January 2013

England have confirmed Chris Robshaw as their captain for the forthcoming RBS Six Nations in an appointment that will have caused no surprises.

Robshaw has been retained after leading England to a record 38-21 victory over New Zealand at Twickenham on December 1 and will fill the post for a second successive championship.

Northampton forwards Dylan Hartley and Tom Wood are viewed as potential captains, but coach Stuart Lancaster views 26-year-old Harlequins openside Robshaw as the outstanding candidate.

Chris Robshaw will lead England into the Six Nations as one of the favourites

Responsibility: Chris Robshaw will lead England into the Six Nations as one of the favourites

Lancaster, who announced Robshaw's reappointment at tonight's squad meeting, believes the Lions captaincy candidate has developed into superb leader.

'Chris stepped into the role 12 months ago when we were building a new team and he has grown as a captain on and off the field,' Lancaster said.

'He showed those leadership qualities during the QBE Internationals and especially against the All Blacks when the whole squad got behind him.

'We have a number of leaders and I know they will all take this team forwards with Chris as we look to kick on from that result.'

Robshaw will be hoping to continue the success which led to victory over New Zealand

Ice Cold: Robshaw will be hoping to continue the success which led to victory over New Zealand

Robshaw made his Test debut against
Argentina in 2009 and despite his lack of experience, was installed as
skipper upon his next cap against Scotland at the start of last year's
Six Nations.

He has continued in the post since,
missing only the final Test against South Africa last June due to
injury, and has been a key part of Lancaster's rebuilding program
following the disastrous 2011 World Cup.

'Stuart told me this afternoon and I am really pleased to be asked again,' Robshaw said.

'There are other leaders in the squad that Stuart could have turned to so I am really honoured.

'The lads have been great over the
last year and now we our focus is on building on the New Zealand
performance and getting a result against Scotland.'

Gloucester fly-half Freddie Burns will
undergo a scan over the coming days to assess the extent of the damage
of the knee injury he sustained during Saturday's 36-16 victory over
Mont de Marsan.

Robshaw celebrates with Ben Youngs and James Haskell

Good times: Robshaw celebrates with Ben Youngs and James Haskell

Robshaw and Stuart Lancaster have formed a formidable partnership leading England

Together: Robshaw and Stuart Lancaster have formed a formidable partnership leading England

Wasps 29 Bath 15: Christian Wade gives England coach Stuart Lancaster a timely reminder

Wasps 29 Bath 15: Wade wonder try gives England coach Lancaster a timely reminder

By
Chris Foy

PUBLISHED:

18:14 GMT, 6 January 2013

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UPDATED:

21:43 GMT, 6 January 2013

Christian Wade gave another timely demonstration of his predatory instincts to help Wasps recover from a calamitous start to secure a ninth home victory of the season and climb into the Aviva Premiership play-off zone.

The 21-year-old wing pounced for a try just before half-time, which put Dai Young’s side ahead for the first time at Adams Park.

They had fallen behind after just 25 seconds, which was all the time it took for Nick Abendanon to capitalise on abject defending to strike on the right, then moments later Tom Varndell was contentiously sin-binned for what was ruled a dangerous tackle.

Solo: Wade changed the game with his brilliant individual effort just before half-time

Solo: Wade changed the game with his brilliant individual effort just before half-time

Wasps were trailing 12-3 after 15 minutes, but rallied emphatically to claim the win which takes them up to fourth in the table.

Their dominance over all-comers in
High Wycombe was maintained on the back of the powerful driving,
tackling and all-round graft of South African flanker Ashley Johnson,
allied to flashes of class from a number of the homegrown contingent and
17 points from the boot of Stephen Jones.

Young had been at pains to play down
the optimism being generated by his young team’s rise up the rankings
and what happened in the first minute was an effective method of
bursting any bubbles. Abendanon gathered Jones’s clearance kick near
halfway and was able to brush past Rhys Thomas and Varndell, before
swatting aside Joe Simpson and touching down in the corner.

Cruise: Chris Bell scored a late try as Wasps won by 14 points

Cruise: Chris Bell scored a late try as Wasps won by 14 points

ENGLAND WATCH

With a Test position on the wing up for grabs, Wasps’ Christian Wade showed his finishing prowess.

Rookie No 8 Billy Vunipola again rumbled around to good effect and outside centre Elliot Daly was dangerous in possession.

Joe Launchbury carried well for Wasps, but scrum-half Joe Simpson had a disastrously untidy outing.

Nick Abendanon of Bath was a lively, try-scoring presence but is a long way down the queue for the full-back role.

As if that wasn’t bad enough for
Wasps, after a three-point riposte from their stand-off, Varndell was
shown the yellow card for upending Horacio Agulla. It was a marginal
call at best.

Referee Andrew Small referred the
decision to television match official David Grashoff – a process which
became a regular feature of an astonishingly prolonged encounter. While
the Wasps wing was in the sin bin, Bath struck again on his flank, with a
line-out catch and strong drive creating the platform for Michael
Claassens to go over. Stephen Donald converted to make it 12-3.

Wasps continued to stumble along, but
Jones struck another penalty to keep them in touch, then Bath lock
Dominic Day was sin-binned for taking out James Cannon in the air at a
line-out.

That offence was punished with
another three points and in the 40th minute the home side forged ahead. A
patient attack through multiple phases was given impetus by Chris Bell
and Daly on the left, before captain Hugo Southwell’s long pass on the
opposite wing reached Wade, who scorched through a gap past the flapping
Donald and held off Tom Biggs to score. Jones converted to make it
16-12.

After the interval, a penalty by Tom
Heathcote, on for Donald, hinted at a Bath revival but it wasn’t to be.
Jones landed two more shots of his own before the knockout blow eight
minutes from time.

Consistent: Stephen Jones kicked five penalties

Consistent: Stephen Jones kicked five penalties

From Nicky Robinson’s brilliant flick
under pressure, Daly chipped ahead on the left, Simpson chased through
to gather and the scrum-half passed off the floor for Bell to score.
Robinson added the extra two points and Wasps protected their lead in
the face of a late onslaught to deny their opponents a losing bonus
point.

Southwell said: ‘We are improving
every week and having got to where we are in the table we want to stay
there, but the Premiership is really tight, so a couple of bad games and
we could slip back again.’

Bath stay eighth and coach Toby Booth said: ‘We forced things too much and made some average decisions.’

Rhys Priestland out for season with achilles injury

Heartbreak for Priestland as Wales playmaker is ruled out of Six Nations and Lions tour with snapped achilles

|

UPDATED:

15:55 GMT, 11 December 2012

Wales and Scarlets fly-half Rhys Priestland has suffered a devastating injury blow that will rule him out for the rest of this season.

Priestland, 25, will miss the entire RBS 6 Nations Championship after snapping his achilles tendon during the Scarlets’ Heineken Cup clash against Exeter three days ago.

Priestland, who has 22 caps, also looks set to miss out on the British and Lions’ tour of Australia next summer in the latest injury setback for Wales as they prepare to launch their Six Nations title defence.

Crocked: Priestland is treated before being stretchered off at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday

Crocked: Priestland is treated before being stretchered off at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday

Crocked: Priestland is treated before being stretchered off at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday

Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby revealed the extent of Priestland’s injury at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

Wales’ recent autumn Test campaign was riddled by injuries as they lost four successive games against Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

And Rob Howley, in interim coaching charge for the Six Nations campaign while Wales head coach Warren Gatland concentrates full-time on heading up Lions tour preparations, has been dealt another major setback with news of Priestland’s injury.

Prop Aaron Jarvis is already out of the Six Nations campaign, while lock Alun-Wyn Jones and flanker Dan Lydiate are set to play only limited parts, at best, while they continue their respective recoveries from shoulder and ankle trouble.

Out of form: Priestland had been struggling as Wales lost seven in a row this year

Out of form: Priestland had been struggling as Wales lost seven in a row this year

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny and centre Jamie Roberts, meanwhile, are battling for full fitness ahead of the tournament, which Wales start against Ireland in Cardiff on February 2, while wing George North (hip injury) has not played since the Samoa game almost four weeks ago.

Priestland was a driving force behind Wales’ outstanding push to reach the World Cup semi-finals in New Zealand last year, form which he carried over into last season’s Six Nations when Wales were crowned Grand Slam champions.

Although the latter half of 2012 has seen him struggle to reproduce that form, he remained a key member of the Wales team, starting three of the autumn games and going on as a substitute against Samoa.

With Priestland sidelined, Howley would appear to face a choice between Perpignan’s James Hook and Ospreys No 10 Dan Biggar for the Six Nations campaign.

Happy memories: Priestland helped Wales to Grand Slam success earlier this year

Happy memories: Priestland helped Wales to Grand Slam success earlier this year

And there was every chance that Priestland would have made the Lions tour, a dream that now appears to have been cruelly shattered.

Priestland’s injury is to his left Achilles, with the Scarlets confirming that he underwent surgery on Tuesday morning.

Easterby said: 'It’s a big blow for Rhys and for our region to lose a player of his quality and influence in our team.

'He was coming through well in the last couple of (Wales) games of the autumn, put in a strong performance against Australia and was making a real impact on our game against Exeter, so it is very difficult for him to take.

The contenders: Either James Hook (left) or Dan Biggar (right) are likely to replace Priestland

The contenders: Either James Hook (left) or Dan Biggar (right) are likely to replace Priestland

The contenders: Either James Hook (left) or Dan Biggar (right) are likely to replace Priestland

'But he will get plenty of support from here throughout the injury period.'

Scarlets medical chief Andy Walker added: 'The surgery was undertaken this morning at the Vale Hospital and has gone very well.

'It’s a difficult injury, but we have been fortunate to have had the injury assessed and repaired surgically so promptly, and by a very experienced ankle and foot specialist.

'Rhys’ surgery was performed by a new keyhole surgery technique which is non-invasive and will aid his recovery and allow him to get into rehab with our medical team at a quicker stage.

'The anticipated time off the field is around six months, but it all depends on the individual and how his rehab goes in the interim.'

Dylan Hartley to face a disciplinary hearing after citing for striking Rory Best

Hartley's discipline problems back in the spotlight after citing for striking Ulster's Best in cup defeat

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UPDATED:

00:02 GMT, 11 December 2012

Dylan Hartley is in hot water again, this time for striking rival hooker Rory Best in Friday’s Heineken Cup clash between Northampton and Ulster.

The England hooker, who has served lengthy bans for gouging and biting offences in his turbulent career, is set to face a disciplinary hearing this week after he was cited by French match commissioner Jean-Claude Legendre.

This latest charge is not as serious but his poor disciplinary record might well lengthen his ban if he is found guilty. The International Rugby Board recommends a suspension of from two to eight weeks, depending on the severity of the incident.

Trouble ahead: Dylan Hartley (second left) has been cited for an incident during Morthampton's 25-6 defeat to Ulster in the Heineken Cup on Friday

Trouble ahead: Dylan Hartley (second left) has been cited for an incident during Morthampton's 25-6 defeat to Ulster in the Heineken Cup on Friday

Immediately after Northampton had lost
25-6 to Ulster, Hartley denied that he had been involved in any
incident. But TV pictures highlighted how the pair enveloped each other
after Best had tackled Hartley in the 64th minute.

The flare-up ended when the Northampton player lashed out at the Ireland star, who was not hurt.

Hartley missed England’s autumn games
because of a knee injury and only returned to action two weeks ago. The
injury followed his eight-week suspension last April after he was found
guilty of biting Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris on the arm in England’s
Six Nations win.

Hartley, 26, has been backed by
England forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who said the hooker had worked
hard to improve his discipline following a 26-week ban for a gouging
offence against Wasps players James Haskell and Jonny O’Connor in April
2007.

Tom Wood will take no fear mentality from England to Northampton

Northampton's Wood still in mood for upset after England triumph

|

UPDATED:

23:13 GMT, 6 December 2012

Tom Wood will resume club duties for Northampton on Friday night armed with the same ‘no fear’ mentality that he took into England’s epic victory over the All Blacks.

He and his fellow Saints aim to halt another double-digit winning run in their Heineken Cup pool four clash with Ulster at Franklin’s Gardens.

The flanker wears No 7 tonight after his man-of-the-match contribution to New Zealand’s downfall at Twickenham, when he wore No 6. But the positional change won’t mean a notable change of approach.

Spirit: Tom Wood (right) wants to take momentum and attitude from England's win over the All Blacks

Spirit: Tom Wood (right) wants to take momentum and attitude from England's win over the All Blacks

This will be a return to normality for the 26-year-old and lock Courtney Lawes after the high of being part of Saturday’s record win against the All Blacks.

But for the likes of Dylan Hartley and Ben Foden, this Anglo-Irish collision represents a first major opportunity to press their cases for a Test recall in the new year.

Yet the main focus for Wood and his fellow Saints is finding a way to stop an Ulster side who are runaway leaders of the Rabo-Direct Pro12 league and have won all their 12 games this season.

Then again, New Zealand were unbeaten in 20 international matches when they arrived in London, only to lose 38-21.

Wood said: ‘We’ll be on a high from that for a long time, it was a memorable day. But my feet are on the ground here at Northampton and I’ve been straight into training again.

Memorable: Wood certainly enjoyed beating New Zealand

Memorable: Wood certainly enjoyed beating New Zealand

'We’re not getting carried away, there are no egos or heroes, we’re looking forward to another big game for Saints.

‘Ulster are on a good run but we won’t worry too much about that. We know on our day, especially at Franklin’s Gardens, we can compete with anybody. There are a lot of good teams out there — Ulster are one of those.

‘But “fear” isn’t a word we use. We’re confident, especially at home in front of a full house. We can put on a positive performance and hopefully get the win.’

While Ulster will miss talismanic flanker Stephen Ferris, who has had surgery to repair ankle tendon damage and will be out of action for some time, Wood identified ex-Northampton No 8 Roger Wilson as a major threat.

Threat: Ruan Pienaar played England for South Africa and Wood will face him again

Threat: Ruan Pienaar played England for South Africa and Wood will face him again

However, the Irish province have threats all over, from Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble out wide to Ruan Pienaar pulling the strings at scrum-half and Rory Best at the heart of a big, abrasive pack.

Last year’s losing finalists will take some beating, but the Saints know they must win if they are to retain hopes of making it through to the knockout stages.

‘Without a win this weekend we will really be up against it’ said Wood. ‘After a disappointing campaign last year, it’s important we progress. We’re a club with high expectations and we want to do well in this competition. We need to win these big games at home.’