Easterby targets January comeback


Guy Easterby is targeting Saturday, January 20th, in the final weekend of the pool stages of the Heineken European Cup, for his return to competitive action. The Llanelli scrumhalf had the plaster cast removed from his broken leg last week and is sporting a lightweight, removable alternative.

When he visits the specialist tomorrow he expects to be given the all-clear to dispense with all bandaging. "I have been able to start manipulating the leg from last week, trying to get some movement back into the joint. It feels fine and I'm pretty confident the light cast will be removed tomorrow.

"From there I was told it would be about four to six weeks before I could get back playing so I am hoping to be available for Llanelli's final European Cup pool outing."

Easterby's recovery is a timely fillip for the Ireland team management as they prepare for the Six Nations Championship. Unfortunately, Guy's brother Simon, one of Ireland's outstanding players in the championship last season, won't be available to Warren Gatland for the present campaign. "There is no chance of Simon making any of the Six Nations," Guy confirmed. "He is walking properly again and hopes to go to Lilleshall in the New Year but he has resigned himself to the fact that he may not play again this season."

"The setback he received (Simon tore his Achilles, had an operation but came back too quickly) was not as bad as first suggested. He did not tear it again. But he has got his head around the fact that it is a slow rehabilitation process and will take things slowly this time."

Meanwhile, London Irish coach Dick Best has been glowing in his praise of outhalf Barry Everitt, recruited from Leinster during the summer. Best pointed out that Everitt had the best strike-rate from placed ball opportunities of any of the kickers in the Premiership.

Wasps and England hooker Phil Greening will have keyhole surgery on his knee next week and could miss the start of the Six Nations tournament in February. The 25-year-old had already been ruled out for six weeks with a finger injury sustained on international duty.

The English Rugby Football Union have threatened to withdraw the allocation of any player who is found to have misused international tickets. The RFU chief executive Francis Baron dismissed newspaper allegations that some star names had sold on tickets for big games.

RFU chief executive Francis Baron said that no evidence had been put forward to back up the story and it would not be investigated further. But he warned all members of the England squad to steer clear of selling tickets.