- Stuart Lancaster on why Argentina tour is crucial for England’s development
- “It’s always exciting to work with new players” – England Head Coach
By the very nature of his history as a school teacher, Leeds Carnegie Academy Manager and five years as Head of Elite Player Development at the RFU, Stuart Lancaster has always been committed to the progression of young individuals and teams.
Hence why the England Head Coach is stimulated by the prospect of finding out “who can and who can’t” from the 11 uncapped players he is taking to the unforgiving Test environment of Argentina this June.
Lancaster likens working with this group, which contains five players aged 21 or under, to a Saxons squad where he must examine their capabilities first in training and then in an ultra-competitive setting.
“It’s always exciting to work with new players, I enjoy coaching and trying to build new teams,” said Lancaster, who departs with his 32-man squad for Buenos Aires on May 28.
“I’m thinking about how I’m going to get the best out of this team, what sort of sessions, framework and playing style we need to get the best out of them.
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“I need to find out who can and who can’t, you’ve got that flexibility from club to country. Who can work with different coaches and in different styles, and who can deal with the intensity and pressure of what’s going to be a hostile environment.
“Who’s a good tourist, who trains well, who looks after themselves off the field and you can’t learn that by watching DVDs or watching the games live. You can only learn that by coaching them and seeing them in the dressing room before the game or at half-time or after a game, to see how they deal with defeat and victory.”
England will play three games on the tour, starting against a CONSUR XV, representing the South American nations, in Montevideo, Uruguay on June 2, and then Tests against Argentina in Salta (June 8) and Buenos Aires (June 15).
Argentina may not have all their European-based stars available, for the first Test at least, but Lancaster is under no illusions about the scale of the challenge expected from Los Pumas.
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England have not won a Test series in Argentina since the initial tour in 1981 and have never won back-to-back Tests in the country, after the first series there started with a 19-all draw in Buenos Aires.
Outlining that England must match the intensity and emotion attached to any home games Argentina play, Lancaster said: “England struggled to beat them at the last world cup and the world cup before that they [Argentina] were outstanding.
“They’re a very difficult side to beat at home and really difficult side to beat away, particularly buoyed by the patriotic support of their fans. It’s going to be a tough series but that exactly what I want, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“An England touring side going to Argentina – you’ve got to deal with the passion first and foremost and you must be at their level in that respect to beat them.”