Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Shaw: I Won't Be a Nearly Man Again; Back in the England Side after the Failure in Paris, the Wasps Lock Will Make the Most of His Latest Chance

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Shaw: I Won't Be a Nearly Man Again; Back in the England Side after the Failure in Paris, the Wasps Lock Will Make the Most of His Latest Chance

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

SIMON SHAW'S World Cup winner's medal lies untouched in a sideboard, dismissed by its owner as a trinket which offers no sense of pride or satisfaction.

Yet the events of this traumatic week for English rugby have again served to persuade one of its most enduring if unfortunate servants that, at 32, his career still does not have to end up being defined by the pub quiz question: "Which player became a rugby world champion without playing a single minute of the tournament?"

For in sport, one man's crisis is invariably another man's opportunity and, out of the rubble of Paris, Shaw feels he can help rebuild both England's World Cup ambitions and a personal dream.

Next year, he vows to win that Webb Ellis bauble the proper way.

Yet, when Andy Robinson recalled him to the starting line-up for the Ireland match this week, Shaw could have been forgiven for a weary sense of deja vu, since he seems to have been answering similar SOS calls from crisis-hit tour managers and coaches for a decade.

Was he England's Fireman Sam, then? "Either that or the last resort," he replied.

Last resort? How about being seen as the first port of call instead? Just 19 starts in 33 England appearances seems scant reward for a 6ft 9in, 19st colossus with a claim to being the best ball-carrying, impact-making lock in Europe.

He has been an incredibly unlucky athlete down the years.

Unlucky for being around in the Martin Johnson era, for suffering injuries at the cruellest moments, for being pipped on the big selection calls, for never being able to truly woo Sir Clive Woodward and for getting sent off quite unjustly against the All Blacks. Imagine being voted the best player in England the year they win the World Cup yet you still don't get picked.

He recalls his World Cup misses with frustration. "In 1995, I was in the final squad but got injured a month before we left.

"In 1999, I was involved until the final squad and in 2003, I played well in three warm-up games, was playing probably my best rugby ever but still missed out.

"That was one of the biggest disappointments of my career. …

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