Rugby: Lancaster to build new England

England head coach Stuart Lancaster insisted the time has come for evolution not revolution after he named his most inexperienced team yet to face Fiji at Twickenham.

Rugby News: England

England's starting XV for the first of four QBE autumn internationals includes the debutant Leicester hooker Tom Youngs and features 11 players with 13 caps or fewer.

The Saracens prop Mako Vunipola and Wasps lock Joe Launchbury, both 21, are also primed to make their England debuts off the bench after impressive starts to the Aviva Premiership season.

If they do come on, Lancaster will have capped 16 new players in nine Test matches as he attempts to build an England team for the generation.

Lancaster is determined to emulate New Zealand and end the need for England coaches to constantly rebuild the team at the start of every new World Cup cycle.

But he also maintains that England's long-term gain does not have to mean short-term pain as they go on to face Australia, South Africa and the All Blacks.

"When I took over in December we needed to bring through a new generation of players because we had a significant number of the World Cup squad who were post-30," Lancaster said.

"Someone said the All Blacks don't go through that period of renewal, it is a gradual drip-feed of new players - and that is where we should be from now on.

"I don't see England in the next eight to 12 years going through the sort of change we have had to go through.

"The Fiji game is the start of a huge four-week journey for us that will test us in every way. It is about putting a marker down at the start of this four-game series.

"The inexperience is not a concern or a risk because we delivered good performances in the Six Nations and that experience will grow with every game.

"I have based the decisions on the form of the players in the Premiership and in Europe. This is not a youth policy. No-one could argue Joe Launchbury is a development pick - he is the form lock at the moment and he deserves his chance."

When England won the World Cup in 2003 they were nick-named Dad's Army but their average age was only 28, the same as New Zealand last year whose squad boasted a combined total of 709 caps.

In stark contrast, England's 23-man squad on Saturday have just 284 but Lancaster has charted where his squad could be in terms of experience by 2015.

And he is confident England can strike the perfect balance of international experience and age, given the days of Dad's Army have now gone.

Lancaster used England's loosehead prop stocks as an example. Where once a prop was said to peak at 30, Joe Marler is 22, Vunipola 21 and Alex Corbisiero 24.

"By the time 2015 comes around they will hopefully have 30-odd caps under their belt and we end with a team that is peaking with the age between 25 and 30," Lancaster said.

"Youngsters now are far more technically prepared than ever before.

"Physically they are far better prepared. When you look at the gym there is no difference between what Joe Launchbury can do and Tom Palmer can do.

"If anthing the younger players haven't had the injuries and the other problems associated with playing for a long time at the highest level.

"Mentally they are robust. They are good professionals who understand what it takes. It is different."

Twickenham will be an 82,000 sell-out for the Fiji game, the best crowd England have ever attracted for a Test against a tier two nation.

That alone is an indication of the expectation that has grown around Lancaster's England team - and that is something the coach has embraced.

"People quite rightly expect us to go out and win every game. That is right with the way we have developed as a team," he said.

"We have to manage the expectancy but also deal with it. The All Blacks have an expectation to win every time and they continue to do so.

"We are not there yet but it will be a good test in the next four weeks to see if we are."

But Lancaster warned that Fiji will be no pushovers.

"It would be great to get off to a good start but you only have to look at their two centres (Leicester's Vereniki Goneva and Exeter's Sireli Naqelevuki), they are two of the most dangerous players we have in the Premiership at the moment," he said.

"Put those together in the centre, we will have our hands full if we play loosely and give them the freedom of Twickenham.

"But we definitely want to get off to a good start because we know what is coming around the corner."

comments powered by Disqus

Most Popular News

News & Update