Sheridan ready to end frustration
August 2, 2007
One of England's genuine World Cup heavyweights will rumble into Twickenham on Saturday determined to rediscover an indestructible quality.
Andrew Sheridan, England's man-mountain loosehead prop at 6ft 4in and more than 19 stone, makes his first Test match appearance since November against World Cup warm-up opponents Wales.
His demolition of the Australian scrum at Twickenham in 2005 suggested he would become a permanent England front-row fixture.
But those powers subsided due to an unfortunate injury run which included him missing last season's entire Six Nations Championship campaign.
Sheridan though, is "feeling fine and fully fit" as he prepares for England's penultimate game before head coach Brian Ashton announces the 30-man World Cup squad.
Sheridan said: "It has been quite a frustrating time for me with injuries, but you just have to deal with it.
"Hopefully, I can now get an injury-free run."
Sheridan, capped 11 times, has spent time during England's detailed summer training period in harness with former Test colleague Graham Rowntree, who is helping to fine-tune World Cup preparations in a coaching capacity.
And it is an alliance that has been working well.
Sheridan added: "I have spoken to Graham quite a bit about things like driving play and close-quarter play.
"I have always got on well with him. There is a decent level of respect between us. He has come up with some good points."
While Sheridan concentrates his efforts on the Welsh scrum, lock Simon Shaw will also look to make his presence felt.
Shaw already owns a World Cup winner's medal, despite having never played in the tournament, yet there is a burning sense of unfinished business.
A career-threatening knee injury ruled him out of the 1995 World Cup, then former England boss Clive Woodward shunned him in 1999 and 2003, although he ultimately arrived in Australia as replacement for broken hand victim Danny Grewcock.
Shaw even collected a medal, despite flying the best part of 12,000 miles only to wear a tracksuit.
But the Wasps giant - lean, mean and three stones lighter than when he toured South Africa with the 1997 Lions - will be a man on a mission at Twickenham this weekend.
He said: "From a personal perspective, in terms of how I have played season on season, I don't think I could have done much more.
"In the club game, I have achieved everything there is to achieve, but that obviously hasn't translated to the international scene. It has been purely down to selection and people who were in charge at the time.
"Playing for Wasps and being competitive every year for the past seven or eight seasons, winning cups, medals, whatever, just spurs you on in terms of your self-belief.
"I have never really been anxious. I believe in my own ability, it's just a case of someone else believing it, like the coaches.
"Your confidence takes a knock every time you don't get selected, but I never gave up on the hope of playing for England again.
"I have been striving all last season to reach this goal of getting to the World Cup."