Rugby Union: Diprose looks to 'old hands' for leadership

England's stand-in rugby union captain has issued his rallying cry for the first Test against Australia. Chris Hewett in Brisbane reports

IF a natural leader always knows his own mind, Tony Diprose is bright enough to realise that a problem shared is a problem solved. The Saracens No 8 spent last season's domestic Premiership and cup campaigns picking the brains of a veritable Cabinet-full of hardened decision makers - Francois Pienaar, Michael Lynagh and Philippe Sella were the support staff from heaven - but he may well discover this weekend that captaincy can also be a very lonely ordeal.

Asked to call the shots in the absence of the injured Matt Dawson, who had been handed the reins only as a result of Lawrence Dallaglio's shoulder problems and the various aches and pains affecting Martin Johnson and Tim Rodber, Diprose spent a humid afternoon in Brisbane insisting that his England charges possessed sufficient vim and vigour to give John Eales' Wallaby outfit a run for their Australia dollars in the first Test at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday. "We wouldn't be here if we didn't consider ourselves capable of winning," he said in time-honoured fashion. "It's simply up to the experienced guys in the side to pull the new caps through."

And which experienced guys might they be? "I'll be looking to Richard Cockerill, Garath Archer, Graham Rowntree and Austin Healey, players who have felt the pressure of Test rugby and thrived on it. I know what it's like to be capped for the first time, as five of our side will be on this occasion; for the first 20 minutes, you don't really know what the hell is happening.

"Yes, I'm captain, but I can't spend the whole game worrying about the other 14 in the side. I have a performance of my own to worry about."

The only flaw in the Diprose philosophy is that Cockerill and company hardly fall into the "been there, done that, got the T-shirt" category. The withdrawal of Dawson with knee trouble and the consequent emergence of Scott Benton as England's fifth scrum-half in 13 outings leaves the tourists with just 72 caps between them. In stark contrast, four of Saturday's Wallabies - Eales, Tim Horan, Phil Kearns and David Wilson - have either passed the personal 50-cap milestone or will do by the end of the month.

So much for Rod Macqueen's portrayal of his Wallaby selection as fresh, innovative and, in some important respects, experimental. True, Steve Larkham is an unknown quantity at outside-half and there are first Test starts for Tom Bowman and Toutai Kefu in the back five of the pack. Compare them with England, though, and the Australians are bordering on the Tiresian.

Macqueen, the former ACT Brumbies tactician whose thoughtful stewardship of the national side may well bear fruit over the coming months, is certainly intent on putting years on his charges. Based in Caloundra, about 80 miles north of Brisbane on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, the Wallabies must make their way to training by mountain bike rather than the more customary luxury bus.

"Some of these blokes have spent the last couple of years in five-star hotel accommodation and we thought it might be useful to get them out of the plastic lifestyle and back to some normality," explained the coach, who inflicted so many press-ups on his players yesterday that they barely had the strength to turn a pedal.

Clive Woodward, Macqueen's English counterpart, was rather more laid back, even though Dawson's sudden unavailability must have left him wondering if he would ever escape the jurisdiction of Sod's Law. "People talk about us being under pressure, but to my way of thinking we're under no pressure whatsoever," he said. "There is a huge amount of enthusiasm for this contest. I think we'll be very competitive indeed on Saturday and I'm convinced we'll do English rugby proud.

"I'm more than happy with Tony as captain - it was a tough call to choose Matt above him in the first place - and I'm perfectly confident that Scott will prove a high-class replacement at scrum-half. We're pretty hopeful that Matt will be fit for the start of the New Zealand leg of the tour next week, but I'm not going to say now that he will be captain for the rest of the trip. That very much depends on what happens against the Wallabies. Believe me, we have a fresh young side just raring to go. I saw England's defeat in Sydney last year and, quite frankly, I think it was a mistake to select players who had just come off a hard Lions tour."

Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
News
peopleOrlando Bloom the pin-up hero is making a fresh start
Arts & Entertainment
tvGrace Dent on TV
Sport
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives in the rain during the qualifying session of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai
sport
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Life & Style
The exterior of a central London Angus Steakhouse
food + drink
Extras
indybestFake it with 10 best self-tanners
Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sportThe city’s fight for justice after Hillsborough is embodied in Steven Gerrard, who's poised to lead his club to a remarkable triumph
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Arts & Entertainment
filmLife for Leslie Mann's can be challenging sometimes
Voices
For music lovers: John Cusack with his vinyl collection in 'High Fidelity'
voices...but don't forget the rest of the year
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
Environment
People are buying increasing numbers of plants such as lavender to aid the insects
environment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit