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 Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

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

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album