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
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
News
scienceScientists try to explain the moon's funny shape
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
As Loki in The Avengers (2012)
filmRead Tom Hiddleston's email to Joss Whedon on prospect of playing Loki
Voices
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
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

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star