Dean Richards, the once- talismanic forward England have tried to do without since the summer's World Cup, may yet have a part to play in this year's Five Nations' Championship.
He has been called into the squad preparing for Saturday's opener against France at the Parc des Princes as cover for injuries to the No 8, Ben Clarke, and Tim Rodber.
Richards joined the squad at Bisham Abbey yesterday when it was discovered that Clarke has an injury problem around his left hip and lower abdomen, which a scan has failed to diagnose accurately.
Rodber has ankle and knee injuries, and although he is confident of making a full recovery before Saturday's match, the England manager, Jack Rowell, hinted that he may anyway opt for Richards if Clarke fails to make it.
"We will make the decision by Wednesday," he said. "Having said that it is between Rodber and Richards if Ben Clarke is injured, I would rather play an out-and-out No 8, and that would be Richards."
Richards, who is his country's most-capped No 8, with 45 appearances, was recently deemed so surplus to England's requirements that he was asked to return the squad-issue rowing machine and mobile phone.
Clarke, the pack leader, did not play a full part at any stage of the training weekend, and missed yesterday's vigorous work-out. …