Lancaster backs his new bruiser

Thu, 10 Jan 2013 06:35
He has had a tough lesson to learn and he has learned it

England coach Stuart Lancaster is confident Calum Clark will repay his trust after he called the controversial forward into his squad for the Six Nations.

Northampton lock Clark was given a mammoth 32-week ban for breaking the elbow of Leicester hooker Rob Hawkins in the Anglo-Welsh Cup final last year and was suspended from March 22 to November 1.

That meant the 23-year-old Clark, who had been on the verge of a Test call-up, missed the tour of South Africa and the end-of-year internationals.

But Lancaster, who has known the 23-year-old since he was a teenager, believes the second row forward, one of two uncapped players in the squad along with Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees, has the temperament for top-class rugby.

"He has had a tough lesson to learn and he has learned it," Lancaster said after announcing his squad on Wednesday.

"I have watched his games closely, the first one being against Leicester. He has been harnessing the competitive nature he has got, which you want in players to win games, but he is channelling that in the right way.

"He has had tough lessons to learn. I have coached him since he was 14, I probably know him better than most.

"I know what he can offer. In addition to his desire to win, his versatility in the second row is an option for us. He is incredibly athletic and very good in the contact areas."

England will head into the Six Nations on the back of December's stunning 38-21 win over world champions New Zealand at Twickenham.

Lancaster's men will start this year's Six Nations at home to Scotland on February 2, with the Scots looking for a first Twickenham victory since 1983.