Lipman: Borthwick needs help

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The Independent Online

Recalled flanker Michael Lipman has blasted the lack of leadership in the England team and vowed to provide under-pressure captain Steve Borthwick with the right-hand man he needs.

Lipman, 27, last started for England during the RBS 6 Nations and he was a surprise selection ahead of Tom Rees for Saturday's Investec Challenge against New Zealand.

But the Bath captain believes Martin Johnson turned to him after recognising how a lack of on-field direction led to England's record 42-6 defeat to South Africa last weekend.

Borthwick's captaincy has come under fire over the last fortnight but Lipman pinned the blame on those around the England captain not offering enough decisive support.

He said: "Leadership is very important to have in a team. It is one of the reasons I have been included. I think Steve may have been by himself out there on the field against South Africa.

"You need voices, you need people to direct, work out what is going wrong and put things right on the spot. I am one of the guys that can do that.

"I am not sure how well we coped with South Africa's rush defence. We knew they were coming and we didn't adapt to it the way we wanted.

"That is the issue of dealing with things right there and then on the field. It was a little bit too quiet and we let it happen rather than acting upon it.

"I played with Steve for a long time at Bath. We know each other very well and I will look to help him every way I can and make his job a lot easier."

Rees has been one of England's few impressive performers in the defeats to Australia and South Africa but Johnson explained the red rose management wanted to give Lipman his chance.

A hamstring strain denied him a possible start against the Springboks and Lipman returns to the fold with a point to prove after being overlooked for both summer Tests in New Zealand and for the majority of England's Investec Challenge series.

"I didn't get a shot in the summer. I was very disappointed and didn't understand why. I started four of the five Six Nations games and was firmly in the position," said Lipman.

"To miss those games was disappointing but I am looking to put it right this weekend.

"I was hoping to get a run against South Africa last week but if it is not George Smith or Schalk Burger then it is Richie McCaw. It will be a great challenge."

Lipman first locked horns with McCaw when he played for the Australia Under-19s - his parents had emigrated from London - and he came out on top.

Lipman does not buy into the mystique that surrounds the All Blacks, who arrive at Twickenham chasing victory to seal an historic third Grand Slam tour.

He insisted: "I am not intimidated by anyone. I think New Zealand deserve the respect they have built up. A lot of teams can be beaten before even going out on the field. I am not having any of that.

"You have to play New Zealand at their own game, get your defence sorted and not be in the slightest bit intimidated by the black jersey.

"If you sit back and wait for them to do something and then react, you will lose every time. If you dictate the tempo and set the standards, you are more than in with a chance.

"They will be a formidable team to beat - but on our day I believe we can beat them."

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