Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hill Gives Battered Saracens Good News

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hill Gives Battered Saracens Good News

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS JONES

SARACENS' injury problems, which sunk to a new low last week, have eased with the news that Richard Hill is confident of being fit to face Bristol on Sunday despite missing the last quarter of England's Test with South Africa.

The flanker was forced to go off after 57 minutes of England's bruising win at Twickenham on Saturday after he was caught in the back by Springbok captain Bobby Skinstad's knee.

Yesterday, Hill had treatment on his ribs and said: "It is painful but the verdict was bruising rather than anything more serious and I will be ready to take on Bristol."

This season has been one long queue for treatment at Saracens' medical room and the club's plight was highlighted by the injury Steve Cheesebrough suffered in the build-up to the 55-13 defeat by London Irish last Thursday.

Chief executive Francois Pienaar said: "Steve, who was due to start at blindside flanker and had been training there all week, dropped some weights on his hand the day before we faced Irish, chopping off the top of his finger. How do you allow for that?"

Before this season started, Pienaar decided to reduce the number of players Saracens lost to international call-ups, with England stars Danny Grewcock and Julian White among those who left the club.

But the terrible run of injuries has ruined Pienaar's plans to gradually introduce the club's young talent to first-team rugby this season.

"The idea was to sprinkle the youngsters into the line-up to give them valuable match experience alongside seasoned professionals," he said. "With players missing through injury and call-ups this has not been the case and they have had to do their learning on the pitch.

"I just hope this has not affected their confidence too deeply. The players we now have at the club will, hopefully, be with us for the majority of their careers, which will mean they can grow together. …

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