- Lancaster addresses squad in Loughborough with Lions message
- “We want as many of you as possible to represent England with Lions” – Lancaster
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Stuart Lancaster delivered a rousing message to his Elite Player Squads at the summer camp in Loughborough this week, telling them he wants to make as many of them as possible British and Irish Lions tourists next summer.
Although that would mean missing England’s two-Test, four game tour to Argentina, the Head Coach is aware of the natural confidence boost it will provide for the individuals concerned and the correlated ringing endorsement of his tenure.
Given Lancaster’s admission that there were not many English players in pundits’ pre-South Africa tour Lions selections, a place on the plane to Australia in 2013 is dependent on success in an England shirt.
“I don’t see it as a personal goal for me but I see the Lions tour as a motivation for the players,” said Lancaster.
“I told them ‘we want as many of you as possible to go on the Lions tour.’ It’s a massive thing for the players and I think it helps them become better players by going to represent England within the British and Irish Lions at the highest level.
“And, also, I want the players to feel that we’re behind them in supporting them in that journey. We want as many as possible on the tour and then I can take some development lads to Argentina.”
Lions as world class benchmark
Photo: Getty Images
After the retirement from international rugby of prop Matt Stevens, Leicester Tigers flanker Tom Croft – memorable scorer of two fabulous tries on debut in 2009 – stands as the only Lion is England’s Senior EPS.
The squad have just completed a three-day meet at Loughborough University and Lancaster again outlined the faith he has in the culture and system he is building, with coaches Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell.
But the former Leeds man is aware of the need for world class players who can produce the game-breaking moments of magic which decide tight Test matches and says there is a minimum quota for a successful team.
He said: “We need seven world class players in our team and I define world class players as being in the top three in their position in the world.
“That’s the reality, we can coach, we can put systems and structures in place but we need world class players.
“A good measure will be the Lions – it’s the benchmark of four northern hemisphere sides and if you’re not playing well enough to tour with the Lions then you can’t be in the top three in the world. It will be a good barometer [of our progress] as I saw various selections for the Lions pre-South Africa and we didn’t have very many in there.
“Teams are made up of the overall sum of their parts but equally we want some stardust in there too.”