When Lawrence Dallaglio was dropped by the England coach, Clive Woodward, on the run-in to the World Cup, he was scarcely overjoyed. He was due to win his 50th cap. But he didn't shout the odds. Quite the opposite, he said that the coach had his job to do, and that if it was ever felt that he was playing favourites, he would lose all authority in the dressing-room.
The second part of Dallaglio's strategy was to play out of his skin. By way of contrast, the 35-year-old Neil Back bangs on about how his form hasn't dipped despite all the problems at Leicester and how shocked and disappointed he was to see his name missing from the team to play Italy in Rome this weekend.
Put these two reactions side by side and we may have something of a clue as to why it is Dallaglio who not only shot back into the team but will lead it out against Italy.
Back, who has also captained England, has been a superb, if not always entirely objective, servant of the national team. But maybe he has one last lesson to learn. It is that a player plays, and that how well he does it is decided not by him but by the coach. And this is especially so when the coach has been awarded a knighthood for winning the World Cup.Reuse content