England have no hesitation : RUGBY UNION

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The Independent Online
The choice of England's team to play Wales at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday week did not detain the selectors even the five minutes Jack Rowell had originally expected. After the destruction of France, it went through "on the nod", the manager said. England's play has been so good, the game-by-game improvement so marked, that the unchanged line-up named at Twickenham yesterday for the third leg of the Grand Slam quest - which, as Rowell has begun reminding his players, will take place at a ground where they have won just once in 32 years.

Rowell did not even bother with the formality of suggesting there had been any discussion. "If selectors have any perspective at all, in the end players choose themselves or drop themselves," he said. Saturday's 31-10 victory was more than sufficient formass reselection and a lot more time was spent on the second and third teams to play Italy and Romania over the same weekend.

On the other hand, the manager is not absolutely clear about whether what he has seen this season against Romania, Canada, Ireland and finally France is a progression towards not only the Five Nations' Championship but, beyond that, the World Cup.

"I still don't know where this team is," he said. "In the loose our forwards are developing a style of play which, of its type, is unique and we are in front in that respect. I would like to think we could put the ball in our centres' hands and our wingers' hands and that's why we play a strike runner at full-back."

These are not so much doubts as musings about where Rowell wishes England to go from here. The breaking-down of "curtain" defences, as he calls them, has yet to be fully worked out and the line-out was the one area of the French match that most obviouslyneeds attention for the Welsh.

Even the mammoth back row apparently remain on trial, Rowell suggested, though perhaps with less sincerity than hitherto. "The back row are a very exciting outfit and a lot of the critics are saying perhaps there is something in it after all," Rowell said.

ENGLAND (v Wales, Cardiff, 18 February): M Catt (Bath); T Underwood (Leicester), W Carling (Harlequins, capt), J Guscott (Bath), R Underwood (Leicester); R Andrew (Wasps), K Bracken (Bristol); J Leonard, B Moore (Harlequins), V Ubogu (Bath), M Johnson (Leicester), M Bayfield, T Rodber (Northampton), D Richards (Leicester), B Clarke (Bath). Replacements: J Callard, P de Glanville (Bath), D Morris (Orrell), G Rowntree (Leicester), G Dawe, S Ojomoh (Bath).

England A and Emerging squads, Sporting Digest, page 31

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