Tom Wood's elevation leaves resting Chris Robshaw at risk

New England captain for summer Test series in Argentina could secure position permanently

Chris Robshaw will definitely be included in England's elite squad when the red-rose coach Stuart Lancaster makes his hard calls for next season, but that may be the extent of the good news for the man who led the national team to a famous victory over the All Blacks and took them to the brink of a Grand Slam. He has been given no guarantees on the captaincy and may soon find his place in the team under threat – a heavy price to pay for a summer's rest he did not want in the first place.

The Harlequins flanker was left out of England's 32-man party – a group featuring 11 uncapped players – for next month's Test series in Argentina. Tom Wood, who might have beaten Robshaw to the captaincy in early 2012 had he been fully fit, will shoulder the burden against the Pumas, and the Northampton back-rower's many supporters expect him to make an outstanding job of it. Indeed, they believe he will make himself indispensable.

Three years ago, the England captain Steve Borthwick missed a summer trip to Australia and was then drummed out of international rugby by Martin Johnson, the manager, in one of the more ruthless selectorial acts of the professional era. Lancaster is no Johnson: he has no intention of treating his most senior player with contempt. But if Wood delivers on the leadership front in South America and someone makes a name for himself in the breakaway role, all bets will be off. Robshaw is fortunate that the Saracens newcomer Will Fraser injured himself towards the back end of a Premiership campaign in which he emerged as the brightest young hunter-gatherer in the English game. He might have made life really difficult for the incumbent.

As it is, England will travel with the Exeter back-rower Tom Johnson, whose star has faded in recent months, and the uncapped Matt Kvesic, who is in the process of leaving Worcester for Gloucester and may not fulfil his obvious potential until he finds his feet at Kingsholm.

Lancaster did not leave Robshaw isolated: such familiar figures as the wing Chris Ashton, the centre Brad Barritt, the stand-off Toby Flood and the scrum-half Danny Care joined him on the "rest and recuperation" list. While Barritt and Care can confidently expect to join Robshaw in the top-tier party due to be named in late July, Ashton and Flood cannot be so sanguine. The brat-packers are hot on their heels and could easily overtake them.

Freddie Burns of Gloucester, by common consent the No 10 most likely to spark England's dormant attacking game, will start the first Test against the Pumas in Salta on 8 June and has the ability to wrest the shirt from the Lions-bound Owen Farrell. By the end of the tour, there may be a fresh and exciting look to the back-three combination as well. Christian Wade of Wasps, Jonny May of Gloucester and Marland Yarde of London Irish are all on the trip, having played some startling rugby in recent months.

"People have been talking about 'new Jason Robinsons' and I can certainly see the comparison in Wade's case," said Lancaster. "The way he beats people, the buzz he creates around a ground… When I look at this squad, I'm probably most excited about the wing options. All of them have pace. All of them have the X-factor."

Yet the coach knows that he could play David Campese on one wing and Jonah Lomu on the other and still not trouble the scorers if things go wrong up front. Which is where Dave Attwood, one of English rugby's lost souls, comes in. The Bath lock won a couple of caps ahead of the 2011 World Cup and looked a sure bet for a big role in that tournament. That changed when he missed important matches through long-term suspension and it has taken him the best part of two years to re-establish himself as a Test lock in waiting.

"I spoke to rugby directors around the clubs ahead of this selection and the one player Gary Gold at Bath really pushed was Attwood," Lancaster said. "He talked about his mindset, his professionalism, his work-rate. We all know about his physical attributes: he's a genuine bag man and we don't have many second-row forwards like that. Now that he's also running the line-out at Bath, we want to see him transfer everything he's doing to the international scene. This is a great opportunity for him to break into the Test team, and that's the truth."

England squad: Touring party

For summer matches against the Barbarians, Uruguay and Argentina.

Fixtures 26 May v Barbarians at Twickenham; 2 June v South American XV at Montevideo; 8 June v Argentina at Salta; 15 June v Argentina at Buenos Aires.

Forwards D Attwood (Bath), R Buchanan (Harlequins), C Clark (Northampton), A Corbisiero (London Irish), P Doran-Jones (Northampton), T Johnson (Exeter), M Kvesic (Worcester), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), J Marler (Harlequins), B Morgan (Gloucester), D Paice (London Irish), E Slater (Leicester), H Thomas (Sale), B Vunipola (Wasps), R Webber, D Wilson (both Bath), T Wood (Northampton; capt).

Backs M Brown (Harlequins), F Burns (Gloucester), L Dickson (Northampton), K Eastmond (Bath), B Foden (Northampton), A Goode (Saracens), J Joseph (London Irish), J May (Gloucester), D Strettle, J Tomkins (both Saracens), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester), C Wade (Wasps), R Wigglesworth (Saracens), M Yarde (London Irish).

IRB engages new trial rules to clean up scrum

The International Rugby Board will make yet another attempt to clean up the scrum, perhaps the biggest problem area for the sport, with a worldwide trial starting in September.

Tired of constant collapses and penalty awards, the authorities have agreed to test a new engagement process in which props will bind on their rivals' arms before the scrum is set. They believe this will place a premium on technique while minimising the risk of injury. If successful, the system will be formally adopted in time for the 2015 World Cup.

Chris Hewett

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
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

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'