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Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 17:42 GMT 18:42 UK
Injured Lewsey to miss Cup final
Josh Lewsey
Lewsey scored the only try of the semi-final win over France
England winger Josh Lewsey will miss the Rugby World Cup final against South Africa because of a hamstring injury.

He limped off during the first half of the semi-final win over France and was ruled out of the final after team doctor Simon Kemp reviewed his scan.

Lewsey, who scored after two minutes against France, will be replaced in the squad by Bath's Nick Abendanon.

"My leg is sore but not as painful as the heartache of missing out," Lewsey told BBC Sport in his latest column.

"It will be very difficult to watch the final this weekend, sport can be quite cruel at times. I'm absolutely gutted.

"But I can take solace from the fact that I have done everything I possibly can. You have to be quite philosophical about it even though it is a bitter pill to swallow."

I don't know what my chances of selection are because they told me to just bring my boots and gumshield

Nick Abendanon

BBC Radio 5Live rugby correspondent Ian Robertson said losing Lewsey was a blow for England.

"He has played so well," said Robertson. "Lewsey was nailed-on to play in the World Cup final, having done it four years ago and with all the experience he brings to the role and the squad."

The 30-year-old Lewsey's place in the team is likely to be taken by either Mark Cueto or centre Mathew Tait, who ended Saturday's game on the wing, with Dan Hipkiss playing outside centre.

Abendanon, 21, said: "It's obviously devastating for Josh as he has been so vital to the team and I feel for him.

"But it is pretty exciting for me, especially going out for the final. I know I might not get a chance to play but to get back with the boys again will be great.

"I don't know what my chances of selection are because they told me to just bring my boots and gumshield, but I will be really happy to just train with the boys and get a taste of the atmosphere."

Lewsey, who was a member of England's 2003 World Cup-winning team, will remain with the squad in France.

England coach Brian Ashton will name his team for the final on Wednesday afternoon.

Lewsey's Wasps and England team-mate Lawrence Dallaglio said: "He set the tone for the game at the weekend with a great opening try and put the pressure on France for the rest of the match.

"It'll be a blow for him but one man's disappointment is another man's chance."

Veteran centre Mike Catt left the field against France on Saturday with a groin problem, but said it was a minor worry.

"I would not want to miss next weekend for anything," he said.

606: DEBATE

Ashton suggested the players will not be over-burdened physically in the coming days, as they recover from the demands of a match which left Jonny Wilkinson saying: "I don't think my body has ever felt so sore."

"Hopefully it will be a fairly relaxed week," Ashton told BBC 5live. "The less training we seem to do - we didn't do a lot last week - the better we seem to play, which is probably a reflection of my coaching!

"If we don't do any training at all this week, no doubt we will win next Saturday!

"We have improved every game. We have played four cup finals, and this fifth one is the ultimate cup final.

"We are used to playing under this sort of pressure, and used to winning these games. Hopefully we can go all the way."



SEE ALSO
Josh Lewsey's column
15 Oct 07 |  English


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