Luger stakes claim for test spot
June 14, 2000
Dan Luger has thrust himself into contention for an England starting place in Saturday's first Test against South Africa.
England manager Clive Woodward is due to announce the team for Pretoria later today, with Luger mounting a serious challenge to Six Nations Championship wingers Austin Healey and Ben Cohen.
Saracens speed merchant Luger _ out of rugby for seven months with a serious groin injury after finishing last Autumn's World Cup as England's top try-scorer _ has wasted no time rapidly recapturing top form.
Despite not making his comeback until the middle of last month, Luger is now fit and fresh, hoping to reclaim an England Test berth.
His devastating finishing qualities were shown to blistering effect when he claimed a try double during yesterday's 52-22 victory in the tour-opener against North West Districts in Potchefstroom
Luger and captain Ben Clarke were England's outstanding performers Clarke touching down twice while Leon Lloyd, Ben Johnston and second half substitute Josh Lewsey claimed further scores.
Full-back Tim Stimpson's 17 points from the boot concluded a thoroughly satisfying evening's work, sending Woodward and new head coach Andy Robinson away to deliberate their Test selection.
``Luger's claim is strong,'' Woodward admitted. ``If you have a break and a rest, then you can often come back stronger sometimes, these things are a blessing in disguise.
``He is fully in contention, and the decision must be made which two of Healey, Cohen and Luger play on Saturday.''
Uncapped Saracens prop Julian White has an outstanding chance of making his international debut, while his club colleague Danny Grewcock is favoured to partner Martin Johnson in the second row.
Clarke may also have made a pressing case for inclusion in the match-day 22, and could feature among England's replacements following his man-of-the-match display.
England could not have hoped for a much better start to their five-match trip, a combination of experienced internationals and promising youngsters seeing them home.
Prop David Flatman, lock Steve Borthwick, Lloyd and Johnston all made an impact, and Liam Botham also contributed on an occasion when England comfortably quelled their opponents.
``I was very pleased with the performance and we've also come through this game with no injuries,'' Woodward added.
``Given that it was a scratch team containing some very young players, then I am very satisfied. It was a good win and a good start for us.''
Clarke's opening touchdown saw him become the first England player to be awarded a try by a video referee.
The experiment, used in this season's Super 12 tournament, was retained in Potchefstroom, even though the 7,000-strong crowd could only wait for the decision in blissful ignorance as there were no giant screens at the Olen Park ground.