England to decide on RWC replacement after Romania
Updated: September 23, 2011, 02:00
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DUNEDIN, New Zealand(AP) Martin Johnson expects to make a final decision on a replacement for Andrew Sheridan in England's Rugby World Cup squad after Saturday's match against Romania.
Johnson has been picking from 29 players since the giant loosehead withdrew from the tournament 10 days ago, but is waiting to see how No. 8 Nick Easter's back injury progresses before deciding whether to call up a direct replacement or bolster another area of the side.
Thomas Waldrom is in New Zealand as a potential replacement for Easter but has not yet been added to the official tournament squad.
"We can hedge our bets slightly, let's be frank, and see what happens Saturday,'' Johnson said Friday. "When we had the five props we were a little bit top heavy, but there was always the risk of someone getting hurt and it happened, but it left us in not too bad a position. We'll see where we are after Saturday and make that call.
"In my rugby experience, it's best to be aware of all eventualities.''
Alex Corbisiero will start his first match of the tournament at loosehead against Romania, with Mark Cueto returning from a back problem on the left wing. That will leave hooker Lee Mears and prop David Wilson as the only players yet to get any game time, with both likely to make an appearance off the bench.
"If they'd come off a big long season it may be different, but they've not got a lot of game time so you want to get everybody on the field,'' Johnson said. "If you're going to come in and play one of the biggest games of your career, you need a little bit of background in terms of actually being on the field.
"People talk about knowing your best team but we know our choices and what we can pick and how that would affect the team.''
Having missed last weekend's 41-10 win over Georgia, Easter will be on the sidelines for a second straight match against Romania.
"Nick's not had this injury before,'' Johnson said. "It's just one of those where we're hoping he's going to be good to go next week but we'll see how it goes. All the signs are he will be.
"He is better, he's had an injury, he's being treated appropriately and he is progressing. He's progressing as would be expected in terms of being fit to train next week.''