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."

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?