Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thumbs-Up for Jason to Win Record 93rd Cap

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thumbs-Up for Jason to Win Record 93rd Cap

Article excerpt


JASON LEONARD will become the world's most capped forward when he wins his 93rd cap against Romania at Twickenham on Saturday in a side showing eight changes from the victory over Australia.

The Harlequins prop will appear at tight head - highlighting the versatility that has allowed him to overtake New Zealand's Sean Fitzpatrick as the leading cap winner for a forward.

Leonard has also won five Test caps for the Lions but it is his total for England that has been remarkable following a debut against Argentina in Buenos Aires in 1990.

Only Philippe Sella (111) and David Campese (101) have won more caps than the England strong man who has the ability to play either loose or tight-head prop at the very highest level.

It is a remarkable achievement for a player who needed surgery to repair a serious neck injury in 1992 and the expected 55,000 crowd will rise to acclaim the popular Barking-born 33-year-old on Saturday.

Leonard was on the bench for the win over world champions Australia and coach Clive Woodward decided not to use any replacements during Saturday's 21-15 victory.

Woodward insists that sentimentality had nothing to do with the choice of Leonard in a muchchanged England team that includes just one new cap, Sale outside half Charlie Hodgson.

The other changes bring Ben Cohen onto the right wing for Austin Healey, who switches to scrum half to allow Kyran Bracken a rest.

Bath centre Mike Tindall, now free of injury, replaces club-mate Mike Catt, Hodgson takes over from Jonny Wilkinson at outside half and will also have the goal-kicking duties. However, Woodward has ensured there are alternatives with Wilkinson and Bracken among the replacements.

Bath hooker Mark Regan returns to the hooking role that won him a place on the 1997 Lions tour with Dorian West dropping out. …

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