Byline: PETER JACKSON
THE list of survivors from England's vanishing World Cup final team willbe down to a maximum of four when they face The Haka in Auckland next month.
Martin Johnson's rejuvenating effect means that of those who lined up againstSouth Africa in Paris last October only Paul Sackey, Andrew Sheridan, Ben Kayand Nick Easter are in the squad for the tour of New Zealand, under theleadership of acting manager Rob Andrew.
But given the uncertainty over Sackey's knee injury, four might turn out to bea bit on the high side.
Of the original 30-man World Cup squad, 17 have been eliminated because theyare either too old, too tired or too battered. Mark Regan, Simon Shaw, JoshLewsey, Andy Gomarsall, James Simpson- Daniel, Jonny Wilkinson, Lewis Moody andMark Cueto all fall into one category or another.
While all bar Regan and Gomarsall will have a fighting chance of reappearing,the fact remains that the probable XV for the opening match against the AllBlacks will be nothing like the world's oldest Test team of barely six monthsago.
Kay, a spring chicken compared to the old hands all around him in Paris, is nowthe oldest at 32 with only Joe Worsley, 31 next month, anywhere near theveteran category.
That may be no more than coincidence given that Danny Grewcock is still aformidable Premiership force in his 36th year, a fact which Johnsonacknowledged in a phone call to find out how his old second row partner feltabout one more crack at the Kiwis.
Grewcock's absence from the list read out at Twickenham yesterday had more todo with his desire for a complete summer's rest than his track record forending New Zealand tours prematurely through suspension.
Nick Kennedy wins an overdue promotion but will be at the back of the secondrow queue behind Kay, Tom Palmer and Steve Borthwick.
The confirmation of Borthwick's appointment as captain brought anuncharacteristic shower of praise from a manager who knows a bit about the artof on-field leadership and winning.
'He is well respected, an established international, very good leader, modelprofessionala natural choice,' said Johnson. 'Leadership is not about making bigChurchillian speeches. It's a day-to-day thing, it's all about attitude andSteve knows what he wants to happen on this tour.' Johnson, who does not startofficially until July 1, will keep in daily contact with the tour from his homein Leicestershire.
The arrival of his second child next month and the potentially seriouscomplications over his wife Kay's birth of their daughter Molly five years agoleaves him no option to take a long-distance view of events in daily talks withAndrew who will also double up as the backs coach and the coaching team. …