- Stuart Lancaster on the form and fitness of Tuilagi and Yarde
- “We’ve had a good winning record since Cardiff defeat” – Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster has left the door open for fit-again Manu Tuilagi and Marland Yarde but admits it would be a “big step” for either to line up in his back division against Wales on Sunday.
Powerful duo Tuilagi and Yarde impressed on their first starts of 2014 in the Aviva Premiership at the weekend after recovering from pectoral and hip injuries respectively and will report to Pennyhill Park this evening.
Lancaster has named the same backline for all three of this season’s RBS 6 Nations matches, with outside centre Luther Burrell and wings Jonny May and Jack Nowell in particular impressing with their proficient adaptation to Test rugby.
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Outlining the dual importance of fairness to those in possession of the shirt and also those returning to the group after an extended period out, the England Head Coach said: “We’ll see how it goes after training on Tuesday/Wednesday but obviously it would be a big step, in particular for Manu as he has only played one game and he has not trained with us all year.
“Marland has been [training] with us a bit longer and obviously we’ve got some decisions to make there. He played well at the weekend but it’s still quite a bit step.
“I don’t feel any pressure [to bring Manu back], the only pressure I feel is to do what’s right for the team. You’ve got to be fair to the players who have played and played well but also recognise Manu’s quality.
“But you have to be fair to him and give him the chance to get some games under his belt, while also giving him time to get used to our systems and structures. We’ve moved on quite a lot since he was last in camp training with us and it will be good to see him and get him up to speed with everything.”
England will start preparations to face Warren Gatland’s side tomorrow, a year after the harrowing defeat in Cardiff which derailed their 2013 RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam hopes.
Discussing the relevance the record 30-3 reverse has on Sunday’s clash at Twickenham, Lancaster preferred to focus on England’s positive record in winning six of eight Tests since then.
Photo: Getty Images
“On the day it doesn’t matter what will happen in the future or what has happened in the past. But in the lead up to the match you do take lessons out of previous games. Not just our game against them last year but when they played against Australia, against South Africa, against Ireland.
“We’ve had a good winning record since that point, we went to Argentina and played well, then we had the QBE Internationals and won two out of three when it probably could have been three out of three.
“Obviously we were disappointed to lose in France but we’re in good shape overall. And the team has changed quite a lot since that point, mainly through injuries but that has created opportunities for other players in our squad, which has created more depth in our squad that we’ve had before.”
The Twickenham crowd was as vociferous as it’s been for many years as England edged Ireland 13-10 last time out to keep the team on course for a first Triple Crown since 2003. Lancaster is immensely proud of the passionate performances of his young team and is delighted that is reflected in a connection with the public.
He added: “I’m pleased that the fans the direction that the team is going in and you can sense that they are behind the team in the atmosphere. I think people in England recognise that it’s a young team that is developing but it’s a team that plays with its heart on its sleeve and with a passion for being English – I think that is important.”