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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
voicesBy the man who has
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
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
newsFloyd 'Creeky' Creekmore still performed regularly to raise money for local hospitals
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

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?