Rugby World Cup: Semi-final previews
Chelsea vice-captain Ben Chilwell was forced to correct himself after accidentally inferring that rugby props are not athletes, leaving Irish legend Brian O’Driscoll in tears of laughter at the blunder. The England star was tasked with naming a rugby XV of his Blues team-mates ahead of the upcoming World Cup semi-final against South Africa on Saturday, when a slip of the tongue may have landed him in hot water.
Joined by O’Driscoll, who captained Ireland and the British & Irish Lions during his legendary playing days to provide Chilwell with some expertise, the left-back began with what was deemed as the tough job of picking footballers to go into the front row.
“They are the biggest boys in the team,” O’Driscoll said to give Chilwell a helping hand, but the footballer was reluctant and explained: “I don’t want to upset anyone by putting anyone here…” before picking club captain Reece James as the team’s hooker.
Chilwell then said: “He shouldn’t be here because he’s an athlete. Sorry, they are athletes, but…” As he could only apologise while O’Driscoll was chuckling away at Chilwell playing down the athleticism of front rowers in rugby.
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Chilwell also named Nicolas Jackson as openside flanker, someone who O’Driscoll put it as the “biggest cheat on your team” though the Chelsea man played down that thought and described the striker – who has already been suspended for five bookings through just seven Premier League games – as the best at game-management.
Conor Gallagher was inserted at fly-half, a call that Chilwell admitted was “harsh” as O’Driscoll described some players in that role as ones who have “come back at the end of the game with a cleaner jersey”. Chilwell acknowledged Gallagher’s work ethic on the pitch but made the decision based on how the former Crystal Palace loanee “likes to keep his hair nice”.
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The Irish legend then interrupted and forced Chilwell to include Raheem Sterling as a winger, who would line up alongside Mykhaylo Mudryk as the defender interestingly lavished praise on the Ukrainian as the “quickest guy I’ve ever seen in football”.
But Chilwell will be hoping that his comments on props and hookers will not be taken in the wrong way, having quickly apologised and even O’Driscoll saw the lighter side of his remark as he initially did not want to include James in the front row.
England boss Steve Borthwick made a curious change at the front of the pack, as Joe Marler was preferred to Ellis Genge – likely for his scrummaging expertise – as he will line up alongside Dan Cole and Jamie George against a tough and physical South Africa team on Saturday.
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