Stuart Lancaster has announced his first squad as England head coach and it has a distinct youthful feel to it.
With Lewis Moody and Jonny Wilkinson both retiring from international duty gives chances to one or two players as do injuries to several key players but with no place in the squad for Mike Tindall, Nick Easter and Mark Cueto the suggestion is that Lancaster will be starting afresh and looking to the future during his tenure as coach, however short it may end up being.
The biggest name of any of the debutants is Owen Farrell, son of England coach and former Great Britain Rugby League star Andy, who has impressed so far this season at centre for Saracens. Other high profile debutants include Ben Morgan from the Scarlets and Northampton trio Calum Clark, Phil Dowson and Lee Dickson.
The squad’s captain is expected to be named in the next few weeks and the names which stand out as favourites for the role are back rowers, Tom Wood and Chris Robshawe. Wood has become an established member of England’s side over the last year whilst Robshawe has only won one cap so far, but has impressed in his leadership at Harlequins in their spectacular start to the domestic season.
Lancaster has gone on the record saying he wants “to use this Six Nations as an opportunity to develop the next players in those positions and develop a leadership group that is strong and wants to be the best”.
Lancaster is clearly looking beyond this spring’s tournament with the emphasis on building a squad that will be ready for the 2015 World Cup in England. He has knowledge of the youngsters from his role as Saxons Head Coach, and his involvement in player development at all levels.
This squad is packed with youth and may take a time to gel, but it is a much more forward thinking approach than any England have had since the days of Sir Clive Woodward and the 2003 World Cup win.
England kick-off the tournament against their Auld enemy, with the latest England Scotland rugby betting suggesting England will have a tough battle on their hands.
Conor O’Shea, the Director of Rugby at Aviva Premiership side Harlequin FC believes that interim England manager Stuart Lancaster will make a huge mistake if he drops Rugby World Cup winning No. 8 Nick Easter from the side that will travel to Scotland to face the mighty neighbors in their bid to retain the Six Nations Championship.
According to the reports that have been received, Lancaster is already said to have conveyed the message to the 33 year old that he is not a part of his plans for the future and he will not feature in the side that will take on Scotland at the Murray Field on the 4th of February, 2012 in the Calcutta Cup.
It seems extremely ironical for the player, who, less than a year back, was made the captain of the national team in their defeat at Ireland but with the coach looking at younger alternatives for the future, he might not as well get a chance to the 47 caps that he already has this season.
O’Shea said that he is happy to stick with his own player Nick Easter and according to him, he is one of those players who have consistently performed for the Aviva Premiership leaders with outstanding performances, leading them out of trouble on many occasions.
However, he further added that this call for Easter to be a part of the national team has nothing to do with his loyalty for the club but out of the belief that Lancaster must find the perfect balance between youth and experience.
However, he also added that Nick Easter is not the kind of a player who would give up if he is not picked in the team and believes that it will only make him perform well leaving Lancaster with no choice but to pick him in the future.
Danny Care’s England career is not yet over. That is according to England’s interim head coach, Stuart Lancaster.
The Scrum half has been dropped by Lancaster after his arrest for drunk and disorderly behaviour was followed by a further charge of drink-driving.
The two alcohol related incidents come as Lancaster has pledged to sort out the off field discipline which dominated an all round disappointing World Cup for the England team, who crashed in the Quarter Finals, costing plenty of fans of the rugby betting markets hundreds of pounds.
Lancaster’s interim period will be without Care, who he has worked with throughout his career at Leeds and throughout the England age groups.
Care has been on exceptional form so far this season, playing a key role in Harlequins more than impressive start to the season and he seemed a good bet for a place in the Six Nations squad, and most likely a starting place against Scotland next month. His off the field antics have now cost him a chance to impress and the chance to win up to five more caps for his country.
It is a hard line to off field scandal that seemed to be missing under Johnson’s era and could, perhaps should, mark the way English Rugby will be run for the foreseeable future. It is no surprise that the Welsh team that did so well at the tournament was seemingly invisible off the field, not getting drawn into any scandal whilst England were shocking both on and off the field.
Lancaster says he is not using Care as an example of a new hard line approach, but it will give the impression of doing just that. Care has been hit hard and it shows that under Lancaster at least this sort of behaviour won’t be tolerated.
It is a new era for England in many senses and it appears they are learning from the mistakes of the World Cup. The future must show they have learnt and Care’s punishment suggests they have done just that. If I were looking to stick a pound on the Rugby Union betting markets as to whether Care will play for England again, I would definitley stick it on him playing for England, possibly even before the year is out.