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Croke choker for Robinson

By Ben Blackmore.   Last Updated: 23/02/07 9:09am

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RBS Six Nations, Ireland v England, Croke Park, Saturday February 24, KO 5.30pm

England will have to negotiate Saturday's massive Six Nations clash against Ireland without top try-scorer Jason Robinson.

The World Cup-winning winger made a sparkling return to international action after coming out of retirement, scoring three tries in the opening two Six Nations matches.

However, Robinson has been suffering from a neck problem all week, and England's management team have decided to rule him out of Saturday's encounter.

In his place comes Harlequins rookie David Strettle for his international debut in the cauldron-like surroundings of Croke Park.

Brian Ashton's embryonic reign as England boss has been marked by a determination to pick in-form players, with the likes of Nick Easter and Mike Tindall already featuring in the first team.

Strettle has been in good form for Quins this season, scoring eight tries in 14 appearances to earn his international call-up.

Now he will be asked to showcase his talent on arguably the biggest stage in world rugby, after Ashton opted for the 23-year-old ahead of more experienced campaigners such as Mark Cueto and Ben Cohen.

His selection means Newcastle man Mathew Tait remains on the bench as cover for both the wide and midfield positions.

England are still awaiting news on Jonny Wilkinson's availability, after the pivotal fly-half missed training on Thursday with a tight hamstring.

Mike Catt stands by as cover, with a final decision expected later on Friday.


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