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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 11:58 GMT
Back praises absent Hill

By Bryn Palmer
BBC Sport in Brisbane

Veteran flanker Neil Back admits England have missed the "unique" skills of fellow back-row man Richard Hill in the pool stages of their World Cup campaign.

Richard Hill and Neil Back celebrate the 2003 Six Nations Grand Slam
Hill (left) has not been able to pack down alongside Back

But he insists the likes of Lewis Moody and Joe Worsley provide ample compensation as the squad prepares to face Wales in Sunday's quarter-final.

Blind-side flanker Hill has not played since England's first game of the tournament and remains doubtful for the Brisbane set-to against Wales as he struggles to shake off a lingering hamstring problem.

Back, who declared himself fit after missing the record destruction of Uruguay with sore ribs, admitted: "Richard Hill is unique.

"We all know his capacity and amazing work-rate. But other guys who have come in have performed very well and have different strengths.

"England are blessed with the depth we have, particularly in the back-row, and thus far each combination to play a particular team has flourished.

"We do miss 'Hilly' and hope he gets fit as soon as possible, but the other guys have done a tremendous job.

All winning championship sides have their off days but hopefully not too many
England flanker Neil Back

"I thought both Joe and Lewis were outstanding on the weekend, and I have no doubt whatever combination Clive picks will do the job for England."

Back is poised to win his 64th cap against Wales, which would see him draw level with Brian Moore as the seventh most-capped Englishman of all time.

The 34-year-old believes that despite some nervous moments against South Africa and Samoa, England remain on track for the World Cup final.

"I don't think anyone is thoroughly happy with how it has gone because we are always striving for the perfect game," he said.

"But we have won four out of four and if we win another three we will be the proud owners of the ultimate prize.

"All winning championship sides have their off days, but hopefully not too many. A sign of a good side is that they still win.

"We have seen a number of games in this tournament already where the top sides have not quite clicked but still won the games, and that is what counts.

"In previous World Cups, teams have gone on to win it after having a poor game. But they have won the one that matters."



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