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Rugby Union: Shanklin again floored by that Millennium injury jinx.

Byline: PAUL WILLIAMS

TOM SHANKLIN has been ruled out of Wales's international against Canada on Saturday and will almost certainly miss the All Blacks clash next week.

Saracens' centre Shanklin was on crutches yesterday after damaging ankle ligaments in the opening minutes of last Saturday's romp against Fiji.

""Tom is highly unlikely to be right to play for a few weeks,"" said Wales coach Steve Hansen last night.""I feel for the lad because he has had two matches for Wales at the Millennium Stadium and he has not lasted long in either of them.""

Shanklin, who was injured early on in the Six Nations clash against France last season, was the only member of the Wales squad not to take part in training yesterday.

Bridgend centre Dafydd James and Cardiff three-quarter Nick Walne were called up, but Hansen insisted nothing should be read into that.

""We have a squad of 30 players, but we call other guys in for training all the time,"" he said.

"Tom was playing well for us and his loss is a big blow, but Jamie Robinson stepped up to the plate against Fiji and we are looking for him to continue that form.

"I always knew he was capable of playing like that - now it is a question of him getting consistency in his performances.""

Hansen said changes will be made for the Canada clash but said that the core of his side had been established since the summer tour to South Africa.

"Canada will ask different questions to Fiji,"" he said. "They will be physical up front and aggressive in defence.

"The fact they will be without Dan Baugh is a highlight for me and a few of the players because he is one of the best tacklers I have ever seen.

"Fiji was a tough game for us and we had to defend well. The way the players held out at the end of the first half under pressure spoke volumes for the spirit within the squad.

"You can always tell a team's character by the way they defend - and the guys stuck together.""

The big question for Hansen is whether Scott Quinnell will have a part to play against New Zealand.

"I do not want to talk about New Zealand yet, because we are playing Canada first,"" he said.

""Scott brings a lot of experience to the side, but he has not had much rugby this season because of a knee injury.

"We have to manage his injury while making sure he can play at the highest level - if we do that there is no reason why he should not go to the World Cup next year.

"His knee is as good as it has been since he picked up the injury and it is a case of looking after him wisely.""

Hansen believes that Wales will continue to improve this month as the players spend more time together.

"We only had five days before the Romania game and it meant we were not able to do much work in certain areas, such as scrummaging,"" he said.

""We have not had training days before the autumn internationals because we wanted the players to have time with their clubs, but we will look at things in December and January ahead of the Six Nations.""

Wales have not won their championship opener since 1997 - the worst record of all six sides involved, including Italy. A year ago they went in the space of two months from shutting out world champions Australia to leaking 50 points in Dublin.

"Players develop habits in the club season and some of the surfaces they play on are not that good,"" said Hansen.

""But when the start of the Six Nations comes we will be further advanced than we were before the Romania game.""

Canada will be without their skipper Al Charron, following the death of his father.

Dan Baugh is gutted at missing out on the Millennium Stadium match.

Cardiff's No.8 strongman can't find a company to insure him against serious injury and has been forced to pull out of what would have been "my greatest moment"

Baugh admitted he was devastated when he discovered he was uninsured against serious injury.

Insurers won't cover him until 18 months have passed since his latest operation. Only 14 months have passed, and an injury would risk his reported pounds 70,000 annual contract with Cardiff.

"I had to think about my future," Baugh said. "Cardiff is my bread and butter - one bad injury and it could be the end of it for me.

"Cardiff stood by me when I was injured last season, and there was no way I was going to risk injury in an international - I want to remain loyal to the people of Cardiff."

CAPTION(S):

MISSING OUT: Tom Shanklin misses the rest of the autumn internationals; JAMIE'S JOY: Jamie Robinson will get another Wales chance
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUW
Date:Nov 12, 2002
Words:821
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