- Stuart Lancaster on giving youth its chance this June in South Africa
- Head Coach also gives his views on Care, Haskell and Cipriani
Youth will continue to get its chance with Stuart Lancaster’s England this June after a septet of his Elite Player Squad were ruled out of the five-match summer tour to South Africa.
The England Head coach is unable to call upon Calum Clark (ban), Tom Croft (neck), Courtney Lawes (shin), Joe Simpson (shoulder), Charlie Sharples (shoulder operation), Tom Wood (foot) and Rob Webber (shoulder) when he names his 42-man playing group on May 10.
While naturally disappointed to lose key performers – such as Paris try-scorer Croft – Lancaster was quick to point out that the situation simply offers chances for others to impress, especially the “good young players” in from the second-string Saxons EPS.
Speaking in Loughborough, he said: “The squad won’t be overly different from the Saxons or Senior groups. From the new Elite Player Squads we announced in January, if we got our selections right then we should be selecting from them now.
“We won’t be deviating too much from those and when you look at that Saxons squad there are a lot of good young players in there who will look to come on the tour and put their best foot forward for the team that plays in midweek and push for the Test team.
“I’ve had two or three Churchill Cups and I’ve worked with these boys regularly during the summer so our relationship is already established and I’ll be looking to take that further this summer.”
Photo: Getty Images
England Under 20 are competing at the Junior World Championship in South Africa while the seniors are in the country and Lancaster emphasised the importance of the development pathway, with squad members Tom Heathcote, Ryan Mills, Marland Yarde and Matt Kvesic impressing in the Aviva Premiership.
A pair of 20-year-olds, Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi, were key performers during the RBS 6 Nations and Lancaster is keen to impart as much experience into his crop of young players, while mindful of the pitfalls associated with exposing them too early.
Outlining the importance of trust in judging that balance, the former Head of Elite Player Development said: “You’ve got to trust the people who coached them in the past, trust the clubs, trust the academy coaches to give you accurate information and ultimately make a decision based on your instinct.
“Putting a player in too young, too early isn’t going to help anyone but equally we need to develop experience in the young group of players so we’ve got some longevity to our plans.”
Speculation has been mounting in recent weeks about the return of three former internationals who are freshly available for England – scrum half Danny Care, flanker James Haskell and fly half Danny Cipriani.
Care was banned by Lancaster for the RBS 6 Nations after a series of drink-related misdemeanours but Lancaster said he been impressed by the Harlequins No.9’s reaction, a player he knows well from their time together at Leeds.
Photo: Getty Images
Lancaster said: “Danny has put a lot time and effort into a personal development plan but it’s not just words it’s actions as well. I’m pleased with the steps he’s made, he knows he is treading a fine line but equally he has gone some way to rebuilding my trust in him.
“Everyone has a decision to make, this is the way the bus is going, you’re either on it or not. If you don’t want to be on it we’ll find someone who is. In all positions in England Rugby there is no indispensible player and we need to make sure they do it for the right reasons.
“I’ll never say never to anyone and I’ll give people second chances, but the time comes when you don’t give a third.”
Blindside flanker is a particular area of concern with Croft, Wood, Clark and Lawes (who covers six) out and Lancaster said he has been following the progress of Haskell in Japan and New Zealand, both on and off the field.
Less likely to make the grade is Cipriani – who has just returned to England with Sale Sharks after two seasons in Melbourne – with Lancaster pointing out the strength in depth he has at No.10 and saying the 24-year-old will benefit from a pre-season with his club side.