Suddenly, Stuart Lancaster is the experienced one – an unusual situation for a man 80 minutes into his career as an international coach, but true all the same. Joined at the top end of English sport, in a similar caretaker capacity, by Stuart Pearce following the resignation of Fabio Capello as manager of the national football team, Lancaster spent a good deal of yesterday insisting that his colleague in adversity was the right choice to plot a route through the minefield.
"I know Stuart pretty well," Lancaster said, after naming an unchanged team for tomorrow's Six Nations meeting with Italy in Rome. "He's not just an ex-footballer who's become a coach. He's far more than that. He's the ideal person to step in because he understands the environment – he's been involved with, and is respected by, the players. When you understand the culture, you have a chance to help shape it.
"I suppose he's in a very similar situation to me and if he asks for advice, I'll do my best. I suspect the England football dynamic is a complicated one and it's important that he brings his own philosophy and views to the job of solving whatever problems he finds there."
Yesterday, talk turned to what it takes to build a successful side. "We discussed the state-of-mind stuff again this morning," the coach said, referring to his England players. "What does pride in the shirt look like? What does professionalism look like, or commitment? These are the things we're looking at, and it isn't a case of me telling the players. This is the players telling the coaches."
Injury doubts surrounding the starting fly-half, Charlie Hodgson, who damaged a shoulder in Scotland, and the scrum-half understudy, Lee Dickson, who fractured a bone in his left hand, eased in time for Lancaster to stick to his guns.
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