Gomarsall prepared for French exam

England scrum-half Andy Gomarsall is confident he will be fit for the crucial RBS 6 Nations clash with France in 10 days' time. [more]

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England scrum-half Andy Gomarsall is confident he will be fit for the crucial RBS 6 Nations clash with France in 10 days’ time.

Gomarsall suffered a back spasm during Sunday’s unconvincing 23-19 victory over Italy and will not be on Guinness Premiership duty for Harlequins this weekend.

But the 33-year-old insists he will be ready to face the French in a match England must win to remain in contention for the RBS 6 Nations title.

"I will be taking it easy in training this week. I have got a bit of a back spasm from the Italy game so I did not train yesterday – I spent all day on the treatment table," he said.

"As things stand, I’m not going to be fit for Worcester this weekend but it’s not a major injury and it will be fine for France."

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Gomarsall was replaced by Sale’s Richard Wigglesworth in the 61st minute against Italy and England can ill-afford to lose another scrum-half.

Harry Ellis, Peter Richards and Shaun Perry have been ruled out of the entire Six Nations through injury and head coach Brian Ashton is running out of options for the number nine jersey.

Gomarsall has struggled for fitness and form since playing a key role in last year’s march to the World Cup final but with Wigglesworth making his Test debut on Sunday, handing the Sharks half-back his first start against France would be a risk.

An equally pressing matter requiring Ashton’s urgent attention is the bewildering second-half frailty that has led to two successive England collapses.

Wales were the first to benefit as they pegged back a 19-6 deficit to triumph 26-19 and Italy, favourites for the wooden spoon, almost sprung a similar upset in Rome.

Gomarsall denies there is any deep-rooted problem to explain the post-interval slumps.

"There has been a lot of talk about the second-half displays against Italy and Wales but I wouldn’t specify that as being the area that needs addressing," he said.

"Individual errors, dropped balls and dropped passes in contact are the things that are going wrong.

"I wouldn’t say that there is a pattern emerging. It’s just that in both games we have not had the ball in the second half.

"The main thing we need to work on is eradicating the unforced errors. You can’t give teams freebie chances like we have done.

"Wales and Italy did not have to work very hard for the points they got but when you are trying to be ambitious, errors do happen."

Defeat in Paris will effectively destroy any hope England might have of ending France’s recent dominance of the RBS 6 Nations.

Les Bleus looked sensational during their 26-21 victory over Ireland, until a raft of suicidal substitutions left them fighting a desperate rearguard action.

The speed and accuracy of their back play, with Toulouse winger Vincent Clerc the chief assassin, is light years ahead of anything England have produced so far.

"Clearly we have to look at our game plan against the French," said Gomarsall.

"They are playing some fantastic stuff and the difference between us and them at the moment is that they are converting their chances.

"The more we play together as a team, the more we will improve.

"It happened in the World Cup and it certainly needs to happen now because the French clearly have managed to get that cohesion more quickly than we have."

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