- Stuart Lancaster discusses upcoming series with Springboks
- Head Coach also confirms Andy Farrell wil not be joining coaching set up in South Africa
Stuart Lancaster is approaching the three-Test series against South Africa in high spirits after overseeing a first training session filled with “excitement and intensity”.
England arrived in Durban on Thursday afternoon ahead of the first Test against the Springboks on June 9, hoping to change a record of only one victory in their last 10 southern hemisphere Test matches.
With 42 players jostling for weekend and midweek places there is a real competitive edge to training, which, for Lancaster, can only be beneficial in the evolution of his group.
Speaking to RFUtv after the official tour opening press conference, the 42-year-old said: “There was certainly a lot of excitement in the training session, lots of intensity, we worked them hard and I thought they responded well.
“It’s going to be physical, it’s going to be intense and it’s going to be Test match rugby at the highest level but we’ve got a lot of good players, who are fit and in form, who want to play and if today’s training session is anything to go by we should be ready.”
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Also high on the rugby agenda today was the news that Andy Farrell, who was seconded to England during the RBS 6 Nations, had taken the decision to leave his club Saracens.
Despite overtures from Lancaster, Farrell turned down the opportunity to become a permanent part of Lancaster’s coaching set up in April and now the 37-year-old has been linked with a renewed position with England.
But Lancaster said he has had no contact with Farrell and, as previously stated, he will review the coaching set-up after the summer tour.
“Once Andy decided to stay at Saracens I moved on quickly because I had to get a coaching team in place for this tour,” he said
“Mike Catt has been brought in on a two month contract and is doing a brilliant job and I said at that point we would review the coaching structure at the end of the tour – my mind set hasn’t changed.
“He’s definitely not coming out to join us as part of the coaching team. He might come out to support Owen but I’ve not spoken to him about that. We’ve got five coaches and that’s enough for me to manage at the moment.”
Photo: Getty Images
With attention back on the pitch, Lancaster discussed the notion that, although England may know what is coming at them at Kings Park, they will have to be exceptional in order to stop it.
South Africa’s famed physicality and high-pressure game will provide as stern an examination as Lancaster’s new England have faced and the Head Coach is keen to discover where his side are in their development.
England lost by an aggregate score of 113-32 in two Tests on their last visit to these shores and Lancaster said: “Against the best teams you do know what is coming and it is all about finding a way to stop it.
“Some side struggle to do that against South Africa and northern hemisphere sides have traditionally struggled. When South Africa came to England in 2010 we got a hell of a beating.
“There are no excuses for us, we’ve got a great squad here, it’s a great opportunity for us to build our toughness and test our depth and we want to find out where we are. It’s a big challenge but we’re taking it on in the same way the players took on some great challenges in the Six Nations.”
Lancaster also revealed that London Wasps lock Joe Launchbury has been ruled out of the tour with a knee injury sustained in training. London Irish's Jamie Gibson is due to arrive at the weekend as his replacement.