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Wednesday, December 07, 2005


O'Driscoll set to jump back into action on Boxing Day

Paul Rees
Wednesday December 7, 2005
The Guardian

The Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll will return to action for Leinster on Boxing Day, six months after dislocating his shoulder in the opening minute of the Lions' first Test against New Zealand in Christchurch when he was spear tackled by Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu.

O'Driscoll had hoped to play in one of Leinster's Heineken Cup matches against Bourgoin this month but instead will make his comeback in the Celtic League derby against Ulster at Ravenhill, providing the Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan with some badly needed relief after heavy defeats by New Zealand and Australia last month.

"The Heineken Cup came too early for Brian," said his father, Frank, yesterday. "He is jumping to get back on the field again but the plan is for him to return during the last week of this month after he has done contact work in training."

Umaga is considering his international future after leading the All Blacks to a grand slam over the four home unions last month. He is expected to announce whether he will be available for New Zealand's 2006 programme before the start of the Super 14 series in February.

Like O'Driscoll, the Lions and Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel has been hampered by an injury since the New Zealand tour. He is set to make his second start of the season in the Heineken Cup against Wasps on Sunday and yesterday he ended speculation he would be joining the English champions next season by signing a two-year contract with Llanelli Scarlets.

"There was interest from other clubs, which was flattering, but none was bigger than the Scarlets in terms of tradition and ambition," said Peel. "I have grown up here and it is a special place. We're entering a really exciting time now."

Peel will not find himself mired in the politics of English rugby. The leading clubs and the Rugby Football Union are on a collision course over the Powergen Cup semi-finals, which are being staged back-to-back at the Millennium Stadium in March. Twickenham wants England players to be rested because the weekend falls between Six Nations rounds.

"It is important that our top players play in this event," said Wasps' chief executive David Davies, whose side face Leicester in the first semi-final. "Unless there is an agreement to the contrary, I expect all our England players to be available. It is the first time Wasps will have played at the Millennium Stadium and we want to field our strongest side."

The Gloucester lock Mark Cornwell has been cleared of stamping by the RFU. He was cited after an incident in Gloucester's 19-8 win over Saracens 11 days ago.

Finally that Samoan Thug will get his just commuppance!

Funny the piddling little arguments the RFU is having with its clubs.
I almost died!!!

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