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Brown a concern for England

Sat, 17 May 2014 20:56
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England were left with an anxious wait to discover if fullback Mike Brown would be fit for next month's tour of New Zealand, after the fullback was injured in a gruelling Premiership semifinal on Saturday.

Harlequins star Brown, player of the tournament in this season's Six Nations Championship, went off with a hamstring injury midway through the second half of his side's 31-17 semifinal loss away to Saracens.

England coach Stuart Lancaster is already without regular fullback alternatives in Saracens' Alex Goode and Northampton's Ben Foden for the first of a three-Test series against the world champion All Blacks in Auckland on June 7 - as the pair will be required for the Premiership Final at Twickenham seven days earlier.

Harlequins' Director of Rugby Conor O'Shea, himself a former Ireland fullback, tried to still fears about the health of England's first-choice No.15.

"Hopefully, it is just a little twinge," O'Shea said.

"It was hot out there, and the [artificial] surface is different to what we are used to playing on.

"It's a twinge, I hope, nothing more, but we will see after the next couple of days.

"He has got a few weeks until that first Test in New Zealand. Hopefully, he is alright."

Saracens, who remained on course for a domestic and European double ahead of their European Cup Final against French defending champions Toulon in Cardiff next weekend, had an injury worry of their own when captain Steve Borthwick sustained a shoulder problem.

The former England skipper is due to retire at the end of the season and Saracens' Director of Rugby Mark McCall was understandably keen for the lock to finish his career in style.

"We hope he is okay," said McCall, like O'Shea a former Ireland international.

"A career as wonderful as his doesn't deserve to finish today [Saturday]. It deserves to finish in two weeks' time.

"There is definitely concern about him. We will know more in the next 48 hours."

Regular season table-toppers Saracens had to come from six points down at the break to book a Final with Northampton, who just edged out defending champions Leicester 21-20 in a fiery East Midlands derby last Friday.

Second-half tries from Scotland's Kelly Brown and the England duo of Brad Barritt and Chris Ashton turned this all-London clash the way of 2011 Premiership champions Saracens – to the delight of the home crowd at a sun-drenched Allianz Park.

Meanwhile Saracens and England flyhalf Owen Farrell kicked 16 points.

Brown and wing Ugo Monye scored Quins' tries, with former All Blacks flyhalf Nick Evans adding a penalty and two conversions.

But Saracens put the result beyond doubt by scoring 20 unanswered points in the second half.

"The squad is really confident at the moment," McCall said. "The players front-up every single week.

"We've got some demons from the past in these semifinals – against Toulon [in the European Cup semifinals] last season and Northampton here.

"I think we have come a long way as a team and a squad in the last 12 months."

AFP

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