England

Lancaster's captaincy secret

Wed, 09 Oct 2013 07:55
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I think it confirmed what I already thought
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England head coach Stuart Lancaster will wait until later this month before naming a captain for the end-of-year internationals against Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.

Flanks Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood are reported to be the front-runners for the role, ahead of the beginning of a training camp in the northern English city of Leeds on October 21.

"We have two big European weekends and I've consistently said you must select on form and fitness first. Injuries also play a part," Lancaster said.

"Equally, there's no need to announce a captain early when it might influence what you're thinking selection-wise.

"If you name the captain early then you're pretty much ruling out everybody else playing in that position and I want to keep competition for places high."

Lancaster, whose side open their end-of-year campaign against Australia at Twickenham on November 2, says the importance of the captaincy is inaccurately inflated by the media.

"It's about having a really strong leadership group, because it's an outdated model where you have one person who has sole responsibility for everyone," he said.

"All senior players have a role to play in the on-field decision-making. It will be an important announcement, but the most important thing is to have that strength of leadership across the field."

Lancaster will go into the matches without injured centres Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi.

Billy Twelvetrees is expected to take over at No.12, with Jonathan Joseph, Joel Tomkins and Henry Trinder competing for the right to partner him.

"To lose Brad and Manu in the space of a week was disappointing because both of them are high-quality players," Lancaster said.

"They have both been key figures for us and were British and Irish Lions. It's meant we've had to look at other options, which is a good thing in my mind.

"Injuries have created opportunities for people in the past and they've taken them."

* Meanwhile Lancaster has met with All Black great Brian Lochore as part of a trip Down Under to better understand the New Zealand psyche.

Lancaster made the trip to Australia and New Zealand in August, meeting with AFL teams and going to the Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington.

He says speaking with people like Lochore has helped him understand more about the DNA of the All Blacks.

"I think it confirmed what I already thought in the sense that New Zealand have a really strong emphasis on culture and identity, so the shirt means a huge amount to them, the identity of playing for New Zealand is a big driver."

The All Blacks play England five times in the next 14 months.

AFP

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