Sun, Aug 19, 2007 - Page 22 News List

Wallaby Lyons beats clot concerns

AFP , SYDNEY

Back-rower David Lyons has been cleared of blood-clotting concerns and will fly out with the Wallabies next week for the Rugby World Cup, reports said yesterday.

The Wallaby No.8 was diagnosed with a blood clot in the calf before the final Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks last month placing him in serious doubt for the World Cup.

But after two hospital procedures and a course of blood-thinning medication, doctors have cleared Lyons to leave with the 30-man Australian squad on Thursday.

Lyons will still have to administer three injections daily during the World Cup to keep his health in check.

"It's a big relief," Lyons told yesterday's Daily Telegraph. "I was optimistic to start with but then after the first visit to hospital it blocked up again. I was thinking I might be in a bit of trouble."

Lyons was re-admitted to hospital as specialists attempted to break down the clot, and within a week the improvement was dramatic.

"I started to run and jog three to four times a day," he said. "I was in a bit of pain to start with but the more I did the better I felt. I feel 100 percent now and I'm doing all the running."

Lyons has yet to resume contact training because of the blood-thinning medication he has self-injected over the past few weeks which prevents him from any physical involvement.

But Lyons plans to train fully on Tuesday in what looms as his final check before heading off to Portugal for the Wallabies' five-day pre-tournament training camp.

"I'll come off the blood thinners a day or so before and that's how it will work at the World Cup as well," he said. "You can't play or be involved in contact sessions when you're on it, so the idea is to stop the medication 24 hours before."

"I've got to stay on the injections until the clot is completely cleared but it's come along really well and we'll have a couple of scans over there as well to make sure it's still improving," he said.

The Wallabies will be fielding the most experienced team at next month's tournament.

The Australians have more on-field experience than any other team in Test history and more than any other starting World Cup team in the 20-year history of the tournament, according to yesterday's Australian newspaper.

With 73-Test fullback Chris Latham and 53-Test winger Lote Tuqiri returning to the side for the Sept. 8 match against Japan at Lyon, the Wallabies will boast an aggregate 795 caps if Lyons is selected.

The newspaper said that represents significantly more caps than any World Cup team has ever assembled and is more than England or Cup favorites New Zealand can muster.

Although the England squad averages out at 29 years, two years older than the average age of the Wallabies starting players, it still can draw on the collective experience of only 664 individual Tests, while the most battle-hardened XV the All Blacks can field would total 715 caps.

Four years ago, England won the World Cup in Sydney with a starting XV containing 638 caps.

"There is no doubt experience is important at the World Cup but so is the spread of experience," Wallabies coach John Connolly told the newspaper.

"The thing is that we have two players with 235 Tests between them [George Gregan with 134, Steve Larkham with 101]. Together they almost have as much Test experience as our entire pack combined [289]," he said.

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