- Lee Dickson on the inspiring influence of army veteran Simon Brown
- England chance is something Saints scrum half has “wanted for a long time”
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Northampton Saints scrum half Lee Dickson pinpointed the "inspirational" guest speakers called in by Stuart Lancaster as a genuine highlight of his first few days in the England squad environment.
The Interim England Head Coach intended to make his players think on and off the pitch at the week-long training camp in Leeds, with people from outside rugby union featuring heavily in the evening activities.
British Army veteran Simon Brown spoke movingly to the players about the characteristics of a top team and the importance of total trust in each other and told the harrowing story of how he lost an eye and nearly his life saving six comrades in Iraq.
Brown’s words were especially pertinent for England new boy Dickson, who was born in Germany and whose father served in Afghanistan.
Discussing his highlights of the week, the 26-year-old said: "The squad environment and banter between the lads has obviously been really good. But also the speakers we had.
"I think they were phenomenal really. It was really interesting to listen to all of them and the army guy Simon Brown was inspirational considering my dad is in the army as well.
“It means quite a lot to me that my dad served in Afghanistan so I sort of know what it’s about, so a big thank you to them. On and off the pitch it’s been a brilliant week."
Rugby League and Leeds Rhinos pair Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock, England Cricket’s Hugh Morris and former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville also addressed the players with passion and belief at Lancaster’s request.
Photo: Getty Images
Dickson, who played for two years for Lancaster at England Saxons leve', has been rewarded his consistent form behind the Saints scrum and has been described by his domestic captain and England teammate Dylan Hartley as the heartbeat of the side.
The former Newcastle Falcon says this chance with England is something he’s "wanted for a long time" and speaking about his introduction to the elite squad he said: "It’s been a brilliant week, for me it’s been very easy to come into this environment. The players we’ve got and the coaches we’ve got are all on the same page.
"We’ve all bought into what Stuart wants to do and all the lads have really improved through the week and got to it in the first session, which is really impressive. I think we’ve got a real chance going forward now.
"I’ve had Stuart for two years and know what he’s about but with new lads new to him have really bought into his culture, which is about hard work, supporting each other, supporting your inside man and being together as a team. This week we’ve really come together as a team, it’s not one person here, one person there, it is a collective of 32 with the coaches and the backroom staff who have all come together and made it enjoyable, which is the main thing.
"It’s been brilliant to take this step up, I’ve wanted it for a long time and hopefully I can play for England and get a chance this Six Nations."