Lancaster to 'freshen it up' for must-win Boks match

Corbisiero and Joseph set to start on Saturday as pressure mounts on the England coach

Joe Marler, the Mohican-haired England prop, played all three Tests against the Springboks in South Africa last summer, but his chances of squaring up to them again at Twickenham this weekend are zero.

Marler suffered knee ligament damage during his unhappy entanglement with the Wallabies three days ago and is out of contention for the most important international of the year to date. If there is a silver lining, it is that Stuart Lancaster has no need to drop him.

Alex Corbisiero, the London Irish front-rower who would have been the head coach's preferred choice at the start of this series but for injury problems of his own, played a hard 75 minutes against Leicester on Sunday and is fit for selection.

Lancaster could turn to Mako Vunipola, the newcomer from Saracens, following two encouraging appearances as a second-half replacement, but Springbok scrummagers are not renowned for giving ambitious youngsters a helping hand up the career ladder.

Judging by yesterday's bulletin from the team camp in Surrey, the naturalised Tongan will have to do something very special in training to earn a first start at the highest level.

Changes are unlikely to be restricted to the front row. Tom Wood, the tough-as-old-boots Northampton flanker, was talked up by Lancaster and is a warm favourite to replace Tom Johnson in the blind-side role. Joe Launchbury of Wasps is under consideration for a run-on place at lock – only Lancaster's understandable reluctance to over-egg things in selection puts a question mark against his promotion – while Jonathan Joseph, viewed by the England coaches as a long-term answer at outside centre, also has his chance, having joined his club-mate Corbisiero in proving his fitness in the game at Welford Road.

"We're looking to freshen things up," Lancaster said. "Now Corbisiero and Joseph have games under their belts, we have choices available to us, while Wood's case for inclusion is definitely stronger after making an impact off the bench against the Wallabies.

"Selection will be based on lots of things, one of which is our recognition of the physicality the Springboks bring with them."

As the p-word is as relevant to Wood as it is to any of the man-eaters in the South African pack, it will be surprising indeed if he fails to make the starting XV.

If the tourists are just a little more conciliatory than usual when they take the field at Twickenham, it will be because their ultra-aggressive lock Eben Etzebeth is serving a suspension, potentially of the punitive variety. The giant 21-year-old forward from Cape Town was scheduled to appear before a judicial officer today to answer a charge of gouging the Scotland outside-half Greig Laidlaw during the second half of Saturday's match at Murrayfield. Offences of "making contact with the eye or eye area", to use the formal terminology, carry a minimum ban of three months.

Not that Lancaster spent much of his time yesterday second-guessing what the Boks might do in Etzebeth's absence: the coach had quite enough to concern him with regards to his own team – not least the option-taking part of the operation.

The decision of Chris Robshaw, the captain, and other senior players to reject penalty shots at goal either side of the hour mark in the game against the Wallabies led to fierce criticism from a number of quarters and the subject was discussed long and hard during a review session before training.

"Did we get everything right? In hindsight, there may have been things we could have done differently," the coach admitted. "But it's too simplistic to make this a black-and-white issue. As Robbie Deans, the Wallaby coach, remarked after the game, these calls are made in real time. There were a number of occasions when we made really good, accurate decisions, but the percentage was not quite high enough: we have to make sure more calls are correct.

"On another day, though, Thomas Waldrom [the England No 8] would have scored from the attacking line-out we called instead of going for goal and Ben Alexander [the Wallaby prop] would have been in the sin bin for entering the maul from the side. Everyone's happy then, aren't they?"

England will not go into this game expecting the unexpected, as they did against the Australians: tactics and strategies may come and go, but the Springboks never play anything but a no-frills, no-mercy style of rugby.

"Playing against the best southern hemisphere teams leaves you in no doubt as to where you stand," Lancaster said. "The Springboks have just put Ireland and Scotland to bed without getting out of third gear, so we know how testing this will be."

Should England lose, with a visit from the masterly All Blacks still to come, much of the optimism generated by last season's Six Nations campaign and the subsequent drawn Test with the Springboks in Port Elizabeth will evaporate.

What is more, Lancaster will expect another broadside from Sir Clive Woodward, the World Cup-winning coach, who had some sharp words to say following the disappointment against the Wallabies.

"Lots of people have opinions, I've come to learn since starting this job," Lancaster said. "It goes with the territory.

"I'm happy for everyone to express a view. I'll just get on with doing what's best for the England team." It was an unusually pointed remark, but then, the coach is in the unusual position of feeling some pressure.

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
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

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?