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VIDEO – Lancaster: England as a second club

15 October 2013

  • Stuart Lancaster wants his players to view England as a second club
  • Squad for QBE Internationals is announced tomorrow at 11am

The intricacies and idiosyncrasies of managing an international rugby team are wide-ranging but Stuart Lancaster is intent on overcoming them by positioning England as a second club as the journey to Rugby World Cup 2015 gathers pace.

England will play 11 Test matches during the 2013/14 season, with the majority of playing time for Lancaster’s squad spent competing in the Aviva Premiership and European cups for their respective teams.

Having worked to establish close and mutually beneficial relationships with the clubs, an insight into Lancaster’s approach emerges when discussing what he has been looking over the first six rounds of frenetic domestic action.

Dylan Hartley and Tom Youngs collide during the East Midlands derby between Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers

Photo: Getty Images

Recalling the likes of Dylan Hartley and Tom Youngs flying at each other in a full-throttle Midlands derby or Tom Wood and Chris Robshaw slugging it out at a rain-soaked Stoop, Lancaster’s face breaks into a telling smile.

“I like seeing the players go at it but I also like the fact that they respect each other off the field.

“I always look for those little signs that they are respectful of each other while being competitive because when they come together for England they can’t have resentment that’s lingering from a Premiership game.

“We want to be seen as a second club – that’s important to me.”

The England management have involvement in each player’s individual development plan, putting Lancaster on the look-out for examples of improvement in specific areas of their game.

England coaches Mike Catt (L) and Stuart Lancaster look on during England training

Photo: Getty Images

And always yearning for evidence of the ability to execute in pressure situations, the number of tension-ridden, high-profile clashes the Aviva Premiership has thrown up this season has been of particular interest.

“You want to see the little bits of detail in the areas their clubs feel they need to work on and that we want to see them working on as well,” he explained.

“It doesn’t really matter if your team is winning or losing because international rugby is about dealing with pressure and making good decisions when you’re on the back foot.

“You don’t often get international rugby where your team is always dominating with front-foot ball. You need to see the players under pressure and see how they execute under that pressure.”

Lancaster names his squad for this autumn’s QBE Internationals – which see Australia, Argentina and New Zealand visit Twickenham on successive Saturdays from November 2 – tomorrow morning at 11am.

Brad Barritt, Tom Croft and Manu Tuilagi, all 2013 British and Irish Lions tourists, will miss the series through injury and Lancaster says he keeps ultimate goal of Rugby World Cup 2015 at the forefront of his mind in the heated selection debates over their replacements.

Saracens centre Joel Tomkins breaks clear to score against Gloucester Rugby

Photo: Getty Images

“If there’s a young player who is playing well, then you have to give him an opportunity but you’ve got to look ahead to 2015 and say is this player potentially international class or world class by that point,” he added.

“And I’d like to think we’ve had the courage to give young players the opportunity in the past and we won’t hesitate to do it again if their form deserves it. Equally, it’s not a youth policy; it’s a what’s best for England policy in the here and now, but with an eye on the future.”