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VIDEO EXCLUSIVE – Lancaster talks through five key selections

31 October 2013

  • Watch England's head coach explain five pivotal selections in his side to face Australia
  • Lancaster pinpoints the qualities of Tomkins, Twelvetrees, Vunipola, Lawes and Dickson

Shortly after naming his England team to face Australia in the first QBE International at Twickenham on Saturday, Stuart Lancaster sat down with RFUtv to talk through five of his key selections.

Lancaster on Joel Tomkins

“This is the first chance I’ve had to work with him. Obviously he came in the Six Nations camp once or twice and what immediately impresses me is his physicality. His big-game temperament will be a big asset for us too.

Joel Tomkins

Photo: Getty Images

“But it’s his small-talk, understanding of defence and attacking lines that make him a straight pick for us. It was unfortunate for Henry Trinder that he didn’t get the training time under his belt to challenge this time, but I’m sure he’ll go back and challenge for next week. We’re 100 per cent confident in Joel and that big-game temperament is the key.

“He’s played in big games for Saracens, Wigan Warriors and England rugby league – this is the next step for him as a rugby union player. It’s a great opportunity for him and we 100 per cent trust him.

“It’s funny how things happen, and it’s a credit to him and [former Wigan teammate] Chris Ashton for what they’ve done at Saracens and how Saracens have developed this season. They’ve both played well and merit their selections.”

Lancaster on Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees

Photo: Getty Images

“It’s quite odd when you say that Billy is one of the most experienced players in our backline. His understanding of what it is going to be like to play at Twickenham in front of 80,000 people is going to be a big help for him and for Joel.  

“His understanding of our systems and structures is going to be important, too. I think Billy has a big chance to put a marker down now. He’s played well this season for Gloucester and now is the time to deliver as an international player.”

Lancaster on Billy Vunipola

“He’s gone back to Saracens and worked hard on his game and his conditioning. He looks like an 80-minute player now and his breakdown work is much-improved.

Billy Vunipola

Photo: Getty Images

“He has enhanced his uinderstanding of defensive systems but oibviously his asset is his ball-carrying and footballing ability.

“It’s rare you find a player that has that size and physique but also that ability as a footballer. All of those things have shone through at the start of this season and his confidence has shot up – he’s still a young man, but again, we feel he’s ready.”

Lancaster on Courtney Lawes

“In my time in the job he has grown as a leader and as a person. The Argentina tour was a big step forward for him and he ran the lineout.

Courtney Lawes

Photo: Getty Images

“He took that confidence back to Northampton and his form has been exceptional so far this season. He’s been running the lineout and as such, we’ve got the confidence to start him in a game of this size because of what he’s deleivered.

“He’s worked hard – you don’t just get that role without studying the opposition off the field and thinking through what call you would make in certain areas of the field. It’s a big step, but he’s taken it.

“We need other people who can run the lineout heading into 2015, and this is a chance for him to put that marker down. He offers physicality and his defence is outstanding, but also he is a lot more confident carrying the ball now as well. Whichever way you look at it, he deserves to be there.”

Lancaster on Lee Dickson

Lee Dickson

Photo: Getty Images

“Lee’s played quite a lot of the games I have been involved in as England. Scrum half is a competitive position but we’ve made an objective assessment of players’ form over the first half of the season and Lee has been ahead.

“With the credit he’s got from what he’s done in Argentina amd in previous games, on form he deserves a chance to start.

“He’s plays quick, brings tempo to the game and his kicking has improved and he’s defensively good.

“There’s nothing more unsettling for a defensive side than when you play with tempo – you can get going before they are settled into their patterns. Lee can do that and we are fortunate we have Ben [Youngs] on the bench, who can do that too.”