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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 02:49 GMT 03:49 UK
Sinking or swimming with England

I have just begun training again after my back operation - but I am limited to swimming at present.

The surgery, to remove a chipped piece of bone, took place a week last Thursday and it went really well but I was in bed for a week recovering.

Swimming is the only thing I can do at the minute, but that is a really good form of training because it does everything for you.

Unfortunately, I swim like a brick!

I'm pretty poor at it. All the Australian lads are brilliant swimmers because they all live by the sea but, coming from Salford, I'm not really an expert!

I am also able to go out for walks, and hopefully I will do a bit of jogging sooner rather than later.

But they've said I can't lift weights for at least six weeks - that's standard for anyone who has back surgery - and that would therefore be a big stumbling block if I was going to make the Test against Australia in Sydney in July.

It's very unlikely that I will be fit for the Test anyway.


Home advantage will be a big factor for New South Wales but I wouldn't like to call it

They said it would be between six and eight weeks before I could play again and even if it was dead on six weeks that would still be after the Test.

There's a very, very outside chance but I doubt it. I'm not getting my hopes up - if it happens that would be great but I'd already ruled myself out anyway as soon as I knew I needed the operation.

As for the surgery itself, it was quite major.

They took a bit of disc fluid and a bit of bone out, but the surgeons said it went really well.

When I found out I was going to be out for ages I had a sulk for a few days but I've got all that out of my system now.

However, when they let me out of hospital I had literally a week in front of the TV. It was the longest week ever, as I just had to get videos out and read books.

I've actually been watching a lot of the soccer. I'm not really a soccer fan but because there's nothing else to do I've been watching quite a bit of the World Cup.

England have done all right to make it to the second round - it was quite a tough group.

A lot of backpackers come to the eastern suburbs of Sydney where I live and in my local pub you couldn't move for Pommies when England played!

Darren Smith of Queensland touches down during the second State of Origin match
Queensland have levelled the Origin series

They also have League on over here every Friday and Saturday and I've been watching the Origin series.

I went to the first Origin game and after that I thought New South Wales would just run away with the series.

But Queensland put in a strong performance in the second game and I think New South Wales have got a few injuries.

So if Queensland can keep their side together I think it will be a lot closer than the first game.

Home advantage will be a big factor for New South Wales but I wouldn't like to call it.

If I had to say I think New South Wales will just sneak it but Queensland will give it all they've got.

They've got World Cup fever over here. Normally rugby league is the number one sport but the TV ratings for the soccer have been really good.

But Origin is still the highlight of the year and with it being 1-1, the decider is going to be a massive game.


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