Greenwood sticks with lucky 13 despite move inside
July 7, 2005

Will Greenwood will make his first test start for the Lions on his third tour on Saturday, wearing the lucky No 13 jersey even though he will play inside centre.

Clive Woodward's team was released today with the head-scratching selection of captain Gareth Thomas in the No 12 jersey, but Greenwood later explained former England midfielder Jeremy Guscott was to blame.

"When I first came into the England set-up Jerry wouldn't wear 13 so I wore 13. He's his own man and if he wants to wear No 12 he'll wear No 12. As the new cap I wasn't one to argue," Greenwood said.

"It's simple as that. I'm not trying to laugh fate in the face. I've got lucky socks and lucky T-shirts, I'm as superstitious as the next sportsman who always changes at the same peg in the changing rooms.

"It's just a quirk of sport."

Former England captain Will Carling accommodated Guscott's superstition in the 1990s by wearing 12 but playing at outside centre.

Greenwood, a late inclusion after Gavin Henson and Gordon D'Arcy were both ruled out of Saturday's third test with injury, said his captain didn't take much persuading today.

"Alfie (Thomas) has probably worn 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 for Wales. I don't really think it would matter to him what number he wore."

Today's selection was a welcome break for Greenwood, with 55 tests for England but yet to start a test in three Lions tours.

In 1997 in South Africa he played six warm-up matches but suffered concussion when looking a test prospect, then in Australia in 2001 he was named on the bench for the third test but rolled an ankle two days beforehand.

He played 78 minutes of the first test in Christchurch after captain Brian O'Driscoll departed with a dislocated shoulder, but then wasn't required for the second test.

"I'm delighted to be playing on Saturday. I've been dealt some good cards and bad cards in my rugby career, sometimes it takes the bad ones to make you realise how good the others were.

"With the injuries that have happened, an opportunity has arisen for me, you wouldn't need to be a rocket scientist to know it wasn't there a week ago."


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