- Saracens flanker Will Fraser forced home by injury
- Counties side prepare for final match of tour
Tony Simpson keeps us up-to-date with exclusive coverage of the Counties tour to Canada.
In his fifth instalment we discover why Will Fraser has earned the respect of his team mates, the perils of air travel and how the team are preparing for their third and final game.
Photo: RFU Archive
The departure of any player from a tour because of injury as always a downbeat experience for all concerned and when the England Counties squad parted company with Saracens flanker Will Fraser it was an especially sad occasion.
He damaged his knee when he suffered a heavy tackle in the last play of the game against The Rock last Friday and it was immediately clear that he had no chance of playing again on tour.
The irony was that he had given an outstanding display in that opening match and was unanimously viewed as the Man of the Match, not simply by The Rock coaching team, but by everyone who watched the game.
Despite his disappointment, he handled the situation with a smile and an admirably stoical touch, never allowing his own problems to affect collective morale. Top man.
No complimentary subsistence on offer...
Air Canada have, like the rest of their countrymen encountered so far on our 4,710-mile, three-stop trip, been pleasant and efficient.
However, they exhibit a parsimony that is hard to credit from an airline which surely describes itself as 'major' rather than 'budget'.
We have all come to expect that on the latter, you pay for food and drink as an extra, but a four hour or so trip from Newfoundland to Toronto and a five-hour trip from Toronto to Vancouver with no complimentary subsistence beyond a soft drink or a glass of water seems a tad frugal.
Hopefully the packet of crisps built into the budget for the 11-hour return trip on Sunday will at least be of the kettle variety!
It certainly doesn’t look as though the Emirates' crown is at risk.
Despite those privations, we bounced into Vancouver – the warning about The Rockies being just that for overfliers proving entirely accurate – and are now preparing for the final game of the trip against British Columbia Bears on Saturday.
Coaches will need the Wisdom of Solomon...
Selection for this game is proving a very challenging process as the opening two games have been very different on context and everyone has put forward a case for inclusion. The coaches will need the Wisdom of Solomon to get it right, even to the point of deciding who will have to sit out altogether.
Before then we have a trip to Whistler to provide relaxation after another long transfer and there’s the team picture to sort out. Problems here for backs coach Jan Bonney, the self-appointed Style Guru of the party.
He is recoiling about wearing black shoes and a black belt with his 'stone' chinos and is demanding a place on the back row.
His plans for rebadging the Counties livery when a new administration comes in under Michael Old are being viewed with similar scepticism to that which prefaced BA's decision to brighten up their image for a few weeks!
Stay up to date with how our Counties side is doing - visit our England Counties news section for all the latest.