Lancaster will be happy if Stuarts can make history

 

Suddenly, Stuart Lancaster is the experienced one – an unusual situation for a man 80 minutes into his career as an international coach, but true all the same. Joined at the top end of English sport, in a similar caretaker capacity, by Stuart Pearce following the resignation of Fabio Capello as manager of the national football team, Lancaster spent a good deal of yesterday insisting that his colleague in adversity was absolutely the right choice to plot a route through the minefield.

"I know Stuart pretty well," Lancaster said, after naming an unchanged team for tomorrow's difficult Six Nations meeting with Italy in Rome. "He's not just an ex-footballer who's become a coach. He's far, far more than that. He's the ideal person to step in because he understands the environment – he's been involved with, and is respected by, the players. When you understand the culture, you have a chance to help shape it.

"I suppose he's in a very similar situation to me and if he asks for advice, I'll do my best. I suspect the England football dynamic is a complicated one and it's important that he brings his own philosophy and his own views to the job of solving whatever problems he finds there."

The two men go back a fair way: while coaching England Under-21s last year, Pearce accepted Lancaster's invitation to speak to the second-string Saxons on motivation and "pride in the shirt". He was also in touch with Lancaster a few days back, wishing him luck ahead of the Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield. "I've been very fortunate to spend time with the Under-21 footballers in their camp and listen in on their meetings," Lancaster said. "Stuart has done the same with us. He's certainly a coach who is very open to learning."

By resisting any temptation he might have had to change a winning unit – the coach might have promoted Ben Morgan at No 8 ahead of Phil Dowson, but decided against it – Lancaster has been true to his principles. Those trying to play their way into the team should, he considers, have to sweat for it. Equally, he believes that as no one deliberately tries to play their way out of the team, there must always be very good reasons for wielding the selectorial axe.

This, he thinks, is the best way to restore a sense of honour to a team who returned from last year's World Cup bemused, bothered and besmirched.

"I want to see a repeat of the discipline we showed in Edinburgh, which was excellent," he said. "It's something on which we've really focused. The need for off-field discipline was hammered into the players when we had our World Cup review during the pre-Six Nations camp. Aligned with that is the on-field discipline. We've worked hard on our relationship with referees – Graham Rowntree [the forwards coach] has done a fantastic job on that, I have to say – and we've made it clear to them that unnecessary penalties won't be tolerated. If we'd been ill-disciplined at Murrayfield, we'd have conceded four or five penalties that would probably have cost us the game."

Yesterday, there was more talk of what it takes to build a successful side. "We discussed the state-of-mind stuff again this morning," the coach said. "What does pride in the shirt look like? What does professionalism look like, or commitment? These are the types of things we're looking at, and it isn't a case of me telling the players. This is the players telling the coaches what these values look like."

Injury doubts surrounding the starting fly-half, Charlie Hodgson, who damaged a shoulder in Scotland, and the scrum-half understudy Lee Dickson, who fractured a bone in his left hand, eased in time for Lancaster to stick to his guns. The coach expects a serious challenge at Stadio Olimpico, but believes his players are better equipped to deal with it than they would have been this time a week ago.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
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

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn