- Saints scrum half “humbled” by chance to face Wallabies at Twickenham
- “I've worked really hard on certain bits of my game and it’s paid off” – Dickson
Scrum half Lee Dickson is thankful for the gilt-edged opportunity to start the opening QBE International against Australia and is determined to put a formative year into practice at Twickenham tomorrow.
The Northampton Saint found himself behind Ben Youngs and Danny Care for the entirety of last season, often among the members of Stuart Lancaster’s EPS released for club duty when Test match weekends came around.
However, a starting role on June’s tour to South America sparked a summer of introspection and education for Dickson that foreshadowed a fantastic start to the Aviva Premiership season – with the deserved reward of facing the Wallabies in the number nine jersey.
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“There’s competition across the whole squad but scrum is a position that has really been talked about,” said the 28 year-old on the eve of his 10th cap.
“Youngsy and Danny are very good players in their own right and it makes me very proud and honoured. I went away last year and worked really hard on certain bits of my game and it’s paid off."
Recalling the lonely Tuesday evening departures from Pennyhill Park and therein demonstrating the squad-first attitude which Lancaster vaules so highly, he said: "It was hard but it’s a team thing and you want to be here Monday and Tuesday and work hard for the people that are playing.
“You’ve got to search pretty deep when you go back to your club and look at yourself and why you aren’t with England.
“I think I’ve done that over the past year – I’ve just matured as a player and realised that everything doesn’t have to be at 100 miles an hour. I’ve watched a lot of rugby in that time as well, looking at different nines and seeing how they do things.”
Photo: Getty Images
Dickson acknowledged the East Midlands arrival of one illustrious peer – Saints’ Samoan star Khan Fotuali’i – as a crucial catalyst of his excellent form, crediting the “phenomenal” half-back with a pivotal role in his new-found “perspective”.
But while he has added an assured, pragmatic dimension to his game, the former Newcastle Falcon suggested his characteristic spikiness and speed of delivery would be just as important against the notoriously high-tempo approach of Australia.
“[The fast pace] really suits my style of play, but I’ve got to know when to be calm and collected as well – when we have to clear our lines or something like that,” Dickson explained, ahead of his first meeting with the Wallabies. “In attack, I’ll try to come into my own and get the ball away from the breakdown as quickly as possible.
“[Michael] Hooper is a very good player and he’s very strong at the ruck, so I’ll have to get it away from there and make sure we play at a high-tempo.
“We’ve got to be confident – the breakdown is key so we need to be accurate with what we do there. We’ve worked really hard on the training field we know it’ll be a massive battle on the gain-line so our lines of running need to be spot on.
“We’ve been drilled massively with Faz [Andy Farrell] this week on chopping their big ball-carriers low as well. The boys have come together and there is a real buzz and excitement around the camp.”