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Premiership Rugby

Hill will still figure’ insists Woodward

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

The Saracens flanker hasn't played since limping off the pitch after 51 minutes of the opening Pool C match against Georgia on October 12.

The injury still hasn't healed sufficiently for Hill to run at full-speed during training at the Brisbane Grammar School and it is now 25 days since he sustained what the England camp describe as a "minor hamstring tear".

But coach Clive Woodward insisted that the player he described as the 'best number 6 in the world' will be given more time to recover.

"With Simon Shaw arriving, and when Martin Corry is fully fit, we've got four fit locks and five in the back row, so there's no need to replace Richard Hill," said Woodward.

"If we were to win at the weekend we'd hope he'd be available next weekend. Richard is more frustrated about this injury than anyone.

"We still think that he will be fit for next week – if we are still here.

"He is just about there but not quite. It's just one of those injuries that dragged on."

Corry and Paul Grayson have both picked up knocks and weren't considered for the game against Wales, meaning Shaw will be on the bench, and Mike Catt – the subject of a brief fitness scare – will provide cover for Jonny Wilkinson at fly-half.

Matt Dawson, who takes over from Andy Gomarsall at scrum-half, will be England's back-up goalkicker.

Catt was given the all-clear following a precautionary X-ray after he sustained a blow to the head in training, and Woodward revealed he was impressed by the South African-born player's recent cameos.

"Catty's done very well, he's forced his way onto the bench and he's clearly adding something to the squad and team," said the coach.

"He was outstanding on Sunday night. He's going well, but maybe isn't quite ready to break into the established backline."

Iain Balshaw was also declared fit after recovering from the ankle sprain that saw him stretchered off in the second half of the Uruguay game, but couldn't force his way into the team past five-try record-breaker Josh Lewsey.

Woodward, however, revealed that the Bath flyer came close to breaking into the team on the strength of his performances against Samoa and Uruguay.

"Balshaw came very close to getting into the team," he said.

"We're lucky to have an outstanding bench with Bracken, Catty and Balshaw. Fullback is a very competitive position and we're delighted to see him playing so well."

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