- Phil is a big part of our leadership group - Rowntree
- Forwards Coach expects Barbarians to present a stern test
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England Coach Graham Rowntree has revealed the reasons behind picking Phil Dowson as captain for this weekend’s Killik Cup match between England and the Barbarians.
With RBS 6 Nations skipper Chris Robshaw playing in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership final and unavailable for selection, Stuart Lancaster and his coaching team have been forced to look elsewhere for a captain on Sunday.
According to Rowntree, Dowson was a stand-out candidate despite starting the second half of the RBS 6 Nations on the bench.
“Phil’s been a very good leader for us,” he explained. “He’s part of our leadership group at the moment and led very well in the Six Nations.
"In the face of being dropped from the starting line-up he was still one of our key leaders going into the end of the tournament. He’s captained the Saxons for Stuart before and he’s a big character around the group. I ‘m delighted for him.”
Clearly, it is Dowson’s attitude as much as his ability that convinced Lancaster that he was the right man:
“He’s selfless, he’s a giver is Dows, he’s always giving advice to the youngsters and the people around him. Even when he’s not in the team he’s just giving his energy, giving advice to the guys. He’s always very enthusiastic, there’s not much more you need.”
Sunday’s game is an uncapped international, but despite having the reputation as an exhibition match, Rowntree and England are expecting a robust challenge from the Barbarians.
Rowntree said: “I’ve never seen such a strong Baabaas squad and they’ve beaten us a couple of times over the last four years I think. We’re certainly treating this as a proper Test, like a Six Nations game. They’ll be a handful because they’ve got some big names there as well.
“In the first meeting of the week we laid down the law, we said this is a big game for us that we want to win. Regardless of what’s happening in the next month, this is our next big game to keep the momentum going.”