- England head coach says Tomkins and Trinder are viable Test options
- “Every position is competitive and every position is to be fought for” – Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster has included uncapped Henry Trinder in his squad for the upcoming QBE Internationals and in doing so proved that if you play well in the Aviva Premiership you can break into the England set-up.
Trinder was not part of the Elite or Saxons squads named by the head coach in August but he has leaped ahead of other candidates to replace injured Manu Tuilagi at outside centre on the back of sparkling performances for Gloucester Rugby.
The 24 year-old has beaten 12 defenders in the Premiership, more than any other English centre, and Lancaster believes that attacking talent makes him a viable option to replace Tuilagi, who has powered to five tries in his last seven England starts.
Speaking about Trinder, who last trained with England when Lancaster was interim head coach in January 2012, Lancaster said: “He’s been in great form for Gloucester at the start of the season: good pace, footwork, power, good defence, physicality. After losing Brad and Manu we’re looking for options in our outside centre channel and he was one of the players we felt was in form and deserved the opportunity.
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“He’s got a little knock at the moment but it’s nothing serious and hopefully he’ll be back sooner rather than later. He’ll come into camp and put his hand up. It’s a competitive position to come into and when you look at the players we’ve got there isn’t a lot of experience but there’s a lot of talent.”
Northampton Saints’ Argentina tourist Luther Burrell and Saracens’ Joel Tomkins complete the uncapped trio of centres who will assemble in Leeds on October 21 for the pre-QBE Internationals camp.
Both physical options for the opening game against Australia on November 2, Lancaster is reaping the benefit of his policy of inviting promising players to train with the senior group at every opportunity.
“Joel came into the squad during the Six Nations so he understands our systems and structures. He understands the environment,” Lancaster said.
“He’s played in some big games for Saracens and he’s delivered in those big games, so he clearly has the temperament. We’ve got some way to go before we narrow it down but he’s a genuine option for us.”
Exeter Chiefs back row Tom Johnson completes the call-ups in place of injured Tom Croft, the cream of a stellar crop from South Devon – including 2013 Junior World Championship winners Henry Slade, Sam Hill and Jack Nowell – who Lancaster says are pushing hard for inclusion.
Overall, Lancaster is happy with the collective form of his squad as England approach three Test matches at Twickenham Stadium on consecutive Saturdays. But casting a critical eye over the second round of European fixtures this weekend, Lancaster is expecting his players to deliver big performances.
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“I’m pleased with the players’ form,” he added. “Some of our senior players are playing well and some of the lads who have not had as much of an opportunity [with England] are really pushing hard. Every position is competitive and every position is to be fought for whether it is fly half, scrum half or centre.
“I’m looking for the lads who get an opportunity this weekend, the likes of Ben Morgan, to play well but every game is a big game for their clubs. We’ll watch, hope the English clubs go well, and assess everyone when we meet up in Leeds.”
Lancaster also allayed fears that Alex Corbisiero will miss the entire autumn campaign with a knee injury. The Northampton Saints loose-head prop has had some fluid drained from his knee but Lancaster said two weeks recovery appears likely and that he hopes to have the 2013 British and Irish Lion available for “some if not all” of the QBE Internationals.