White doubt for Premiership opener
August 30, 2011
Julian White will hope to make a remarkable recovery in time for Saturday © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers are set for front-row crisis ahead of their Premiership opener with Exeter Chiefs on Saturday.
With Martin Castrogiovanni and Dan Cole on World Cup duty with Italy and England respectively, Tigers boss Richard Cockerill would have hoped to call upon the vast experience of front-row Julian White to fill the tight-head berth. However, the 38-year-old has undergone the surgeon's knife on his knee and faces a race against time to be fit for the Chiefs match.
In his absence, Cockerill is expected to hand 20-year-old England Saxons prop Kieran Brookes his first start in a Tigers jersey. Brookes - who was a summer acquisition from the Newcastle Falcons - is likely to be partnered in the front-row engine room by Boris Stankovich and George Chuter. With his prop resources stretched, Cockerill will look to the likes of academy graduates Ryan Bower and Camilo Parilli Ocampo for cover from the bench.
And Cockerill admits White's age will lengthen the prop's recovery time. "Julian White has had an operation on his knee," Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury. "He had a bit of loose body in there which was locking his knee up.
"He has had that taken out and is now recovering from that procedure. He should be fit for the start of the season but he is 38 and these things take a little bit of time so we will have to see."
Cockerill also faces an anxious wait over the fitness of fly-half Staunton. He missed pre-season with an Achilles injury and looks set to be unable to start their clash with Exeter. In his place, 18-year-old George Ford is expected to take the half-back reins alongside Micky Young.
"We will have to wait and see whether Staunton is fit enough to be included against Exeter," Cockerill said. "George has stood up well in pre-season and I have a lot of faith in him."
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