Jonny May may claim England spot for the Springbok Experience

 

The parallels are freakish: England will travel to South Africa in June for a five-match tour during which they will attempt to lay solid foundations for an assault on the world title a little over three years hence – just as they did in 2000. And we all know what happened then. As every coach involved in that previous trip, from Sir Clive Woodward and Andy Robinson to Brian Ashton and Phil Larder, has subsequently asserted, it was the Springbok Experience that made everything else possible.

Just as Woodward did a dozen summers ago, Stuart Lancaster will travel with a 42-man party, give or take a spare hooker and an extra midfielder, and when he declares his hand this afternoon he is likely to draw virtually all his players from the two squads, senior Six Nations and second-string Saxons, that served him well enough in the 11 weeks after Christmas. This too has echoes of 2000: on that tour, the Test team had a familiar look to it while the midweek side showcased its share of ambitious wannabes.

Continuing orthopaedic hassles will keep the influential Northampton back-rower Tom Wood off the plane, but as Lancaster has never been in a position to pick him anyway – Wood broke down before the Six Nations – there is no obvious reason to lose sleep over the news. The coach could, however, have done without the with-drawal of Tom Croft, his prime line-out operator, and the enforced unavailability of the aggressive Calum Clark. Croft suffered a neck injury in Leicester's compelling Premiership victory over Harlequins last month while Clark is serving time on the sidelines for busting an opponent's elbow.

James Haskell, currently playing Super 15 rugby in Dunedin, is available to minimise the back-row disruption, thanks to the Rugby Football Union's pragmatic approach to their own "no foreign-based players" policy, but there is still some concern over the shortage of genuinely quick flankers. Andy Saull of Saracens might have been included, but he too is crocked. Jamie Gibson of London Irish? He seems the best bet, under the circumstances.

There are other problem positions, most notably hooker – hence the discussions over whether to take the Leicester youngster Tom Youngs, despite his inexperience at Premiership level – and wing. Lancaster has a range of options out wide, but none of them are bankable. Should he revert to Matt Banahan of Bath, despite the excellent arguments the player has mounted against his own selection in recent months, or throw a top-flight newcomer like Christian Wade of Wasps into the mix? All things considered, the lightning-quick Jonny May of Gloucester would be best suited to this tour.

More than anything, Lancaster is hoping that the four best clubs sides in the country – Harlequins, Leicester, Saracens and Northampton – negotiate the knock-out phase of the Premiership campaign without losing England squad members to injury. As many as 30 of the tour party could be drawn from this quartet: that leaves the selectors deep in hostage-to-fortune territory.

One of that number is likely to be the troubled Quins scrum-half Danny Care, ditched from the England squad after drink-related run-ins with the police. Care said yesterday that he was now "off the booze" and added: "I don't think I realised how much I was affected by the toe injury that kept me out of the World Cup. My sports psychologist thinks frustration built up, my focus slipped and I took my eye of what was required to be England's No 9."

Meanwhile, the Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards has agreed another of his part-time deals with an English club – London Irish, on this occasion. Edwards is a noted workaholic who would, were it humanly possible, spend eight days a week on the training field, and he has had a little too much time on his hands since ending his successful association with Wasps after last year's World Cup.

This new arrangement, under which Edwards will spend a day a week, plus the odd "day off", working with the Exiles, has been sanctioned by the Welsh Rugby Union. "It will keep Shaun at the cutting edge of the game at domestic level," said a spokesman for the governing body.

Tour guide: Shocks squad could throw up

Danny Care

Four arrests in a few weeks sent the Harlequins scrum-half to the back of the England queue, and head coach Stuart Lancaster told him to address his drinking habits or he would remain off-limits. Now back to something like his best.

James Haskell

The back-rower consciously ruled himself out by agreeing to play his club rugby in Japan and then New Zealand. But needs must. Injuries to Tom Wood and Tom Croft present him with an unexpected chance to forget World Cup miseries.

Alex Goode

Lancaster indicated weeks ago that the Saracens full-back would get a chance in South Africa. Hopefully he will stay true to his word, for Goode has been among the most intelligent, innovative Englishmen for three seasons now.

Joe Marler

The uncapped Quins prop is, say the coaching staff, "dying to get involved". Close to a breakthrough in the Six Nations, the belligerent loosehead should relish mixing it with the he-man scrummagers in Springbok country.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform