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Buxton blow for England
PA Sport
May 13, 2007

Gloucester forward Peter Buxton is likely to miss England's tour of South Africa after being hurt in the emphatic Guinness Premiership final defeat against Leicester.

Flanker Buxton, Gloucester's stand-in skipper at rainswept Twickenham after Marco Bortolami was ruled out before kick-off due to a knee injury, suffered a suspected broken hand.

He went off just 16 minutes into the game, which Leicester won 44-16 as they clinched their first Premiership title since 2002. Confirmation of 28-year-old uncapped Buxton's withdrawal is expected on Monday.

A severely-depleted England squad will head to Johannesburg on Tuesday night, ahead of appointments with the Springboks in Bloemfontein on May 26 and Pretoria seven days later.

England head coach Brian Ashton has already lost the likes of Buxton's injured Gloucester colleagues Mike Tindall, Olly Morgan and James Forrester from his tour plans.

And Ashton has not selected players from Leicester, Wasps or Bath, who all contest European finals in London next weekend.

He is likely to scour the England Saxons Churchill Cup squad for a potential replacement, with Kieran Roche (London Irish), Ben Skirving (Saracens) and Ben Woods (Newcastle) among the possible alternatives.

Buxton's injury capped a miserable day for Gloucester, who were destroyed by the seven-try Tigers, conceding 22 points in each half.

But despite the margin of defeat, Gloucester head coach Dean Ryan remains upbeat about the future prospects of a squad laced with exciting young English talent.

Leicester's blockbusting wings Alesana Tuilagi and Seru Rabeni were architects of Gloucester's downfall, and Ryan admitted: "It is a very difficult contest to match up with people who are as superior in the physical stakes as Tuilagi and Rabeni are.

"Leicester use them as battering rams until they get their fast ball, and if you can't deal with it, your defence is under stress. It is quite simple.

"But it wasn't just about Tuilagi, it was about their superiority in the scrum and probably the back-five, which gave Tuilagi and Rabeni opportunities to find themselves with one on one situations.

"We always knew the weather would take some of our game away and leave us with a more head-on contest with a side we knew was probably more physical than us.

"It is very clear the route Leicester have gone is with an enormous amount of power across the team. It is very clear we like to play the game slightly differently, but power comes first, and we need to find that balance in our recruitment.

"For the young guys in our team it is about learning, and it should never be seen to be anything else.

"For us, development is long-term. It is not done in weeks - it is done with some hurt and experiences like this one.

"If we can reach finals when we are halfway up the development curve, then I would expect us to be visiting finals on a regular basis and would be disappointed if we didn't."

Fly-half Ryan Lamb echoed Ryan's view, adding: "We've had a good season, but all credit to Leicester, they came out firing and they are a fantastic side. They blew us away.

"The squad knows we are on a learning curve. All we can do is take the lessons and look at the way Leicester play in knockout rugby.

"We all know what we have to work on - physicality is one of my areas - and we are not going to shy away from that.

"But I don't think we are far away. We won the European Challenge Cup last season, and we finished top of the pile in the Premiership this season, which is obviously an achievement in itself.

"Against Leicester, you have to stop their big runners on the gain-line, and if you don't do that, they will walk through you, and that is what happened. But we will aim to come back next year a lot stronger."

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