Byline: CHRIS JONES
LAWRENCE DALLAGLIO and Martin Corry go head-to-head in tomorrow's Powergen Cup semi-final as the argument over who should be wearing the England No8 jersey against France rages on.
And it has taken an Australian to get to the heart of a debate that is dominating the build-up to the clash between London Wasps and Leicester Tigers in Cardiff.
"Andy Robinson has produced a problem that doesn't need to exist," said Michael Lynagh, the recordbreaking Australian outside-half. "I just find it extraordinary that this situation has been created."
The Corry-Dallaglio battle was given new life at Murrayfield last Saturday when England head coach Robinson removed Corry - his chosen captain - from the second-half fray. As Corry left the pitch, Dallaglio came sprinting on, bringing with him a rugby reputation and iconic status the "real" captain of England cannot match.
That is why the timing of tomorrow's match is so fascinating and why it is overshadowing the other semi-final between Bath and Llanelli, which is the second part of a Cup doubleheader at the Millennium Stadium.
Standard Sport asked six rugby experts who they thought should play at No8 against the French in Paris on 12 March and five came down in favour of Dallaglio and Corry appearing in the same back row.
This had more to do with a lack of genuine alternatives than the need to find room for two thirtysomethings at the wrong end of their careers.
With Richard Hill a long-term injury problem and Pat Sanderson only just coming back from his own enforced layoff, the options in the England back row are limited.
Dallaglio, though, insists: "The Corry/Dallaglio thing is not an issue tomorrow because we have been friends and healthy rivals for a long time. We are in it together for England - Martin is not alone as captain.
"I accept that I have a great opportunity to put my own case forward in this game, however, I am a considerable way from my very best form, which is what I was able to produce at the end of last season before I broke my ankle."
Leicester head coach Pat Howard is adamant his man Corry is the right choice stating: "I think England could have won in Scotland if Cozza had stayed on the pitch."
But Corry is also playing down the rivalry and said: "We get on and it's the media that has blown this all up.
Am I going to get into this little spat?
No. My only focus in this match is to get Leicester into the final and this whole thing has been blown out of all proportion."
In a subplot to the Corry-Dallaglio show, there will be another back-row battle to delight the neutrals and worry Robinson with Wasps' Joe Worsley, the England No6, up against Leicester's Lewis Moody, the England No7.
One of these players would be relegated to the replacements bench if Robinson agrees with our experts and opts to start the French game with the two rivals for the No8 role. …