Lund an open secret in the new model England

Sale flanker a joker as Robinson's inventive selection face tough initiation

"If I were a sentimental person," said Andy Robinson, the England head coach, on the eve of today's opening Cook Cup Test with Australia, "I'd have picked Joe Worsley for his 50th cap. It hasn't happened." Too right it hasn't, much to Worsley's bitter frustration. And the reason? Step forward Magnus Lund, who will be winning his very first cap in a remodelled back row featuring three open-side flankers, no blind-side specialist and no career No 8. It is a gamble of considerable proportions against a Wallaby unit featuring two men of 6ft 6in and a third, the diminutive George Smith, who plays like the biggest man on the planet.

It can only be assumed that the shop-soiled world champions, down on their luck after two desperate Six Nations campaigns, are planning something extremely crafty in the hunter-gatherer department. Pat Sanderson, the captain, has been named at No 8, having played all his rugby for Worcester in the No 7 shirt, while Lewis Moody, a natural No 6 in the eyes of many, will wear No 7 despite growing reservations about his ball-winning ability on the floor. Which leaves Lund, who played a season-long blinder for Sale in the open-side position, only to find himself on the blind side of the scrum on his international debut.

"This is about the three of them together, rather than three individuals performing specific roles," Robinson explained yesterday. "You could argue that the best back row England ever put on the field had Richard Hill, Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio as its components, and when you boil it down, Hill and Back were both open-side flankers by instinct. We've selected a unit we believe will give us an extra dimension at the line-out as well as move around the field at a pace that enables them to get underneath the opposition and win us possession. Most importantly, they can all read the game. To my mind, that is crucial."

While Sanderson has been anything but relaxed during the build-up to this game - a groin injury prevented him training fully until late last week - Moody and Lund have been so laid-back as to border on the horizontal. "There is no rule against playing two open-side flankers together," Moody said with a shrug of the shoulders. "The Aussies did it for years with Smith and Phil Waugh, and may end up doing so again."

For his part, Lund, who finished on the winning side against his new partner in the Premiership final at Twickenham 15 days ago, was in shoulder-shrugging mood. "We have to be confident," he said. "I have good players around me. What more can I ask?"

Robinson has always been a keen supporter of Moody; indeed, he once described him as a "given" in terms of selection. When the Leicester flanker, regularly forced on to the blind-side slot at club level, first by Back and then by Shane Jennings, asked to be considered as a specialist breakaway at international level, the coach was happy to play ball. "Andy sees me as a seven, which is how I've always seen myself," Moody said last week. "I'm relieved. At Leicester, I've never been given the opportunity to play regularly in the position, and if you're always chopping and changing, it's difficult to develop consistency. I've asked my coaches to stop swapping me."

If England were to introduce the high-performance Lund to their mix - and they very much wanted to do so, given their concerns over a Rolls-Royce of a Wallaby line-out and the obvious need to compete with Smith on the floor - they would have to box clever. Hence the new arrangement. The Wallabies will understand their opponents' motives, having run Smith and Waugh in tandem against New Zealand in the semi-finals of the 2003 World Cup, specifically to nullify the great Richie McCaw. It worked a treat. Increasingly, modern rugby union places a premium on inventive selection.

England have experimented in virtually every area of their team: they have a new back three that may have a future together, a centre pairing that has a strictly temporary look to it, a debutant at scrum-half, a front row featuring a prop in Graham Rowntree who is preparing for semi-retirement and a pair of locks with one cap between them. As George Gregan, the Wallaby captain, has 118 caps all to himself and is surrounded by such luminaries as Stephen Larkham, Mat Rogers, Stirling Mortlock and Lote Tuqiri, it is asking an enormous amount of the least experienced red rose side in eight years to find their collective feet sufficiently quickly to deny their hosts a much-needed victory.

Yet it is perfectly possible to imagine the likes of Mathew Tait, the Newcastle centre, and Tom Varndell, the super-quick Leicester wing, showing enough of themselves to give the reigning champions fresh hope ahead of next year's World Cup in France. Lund falls into the same bracket. He has an international pedigree - his Norwegian father, Morten, played basketball for his country - and a highly physical approach to go with it. He has a sense of humour, too.

"When I first started making my way in professional rugby, they got to hear of it in Oslo," he said. "I had a couple of phone calls, asking me if I was interested in playing for Norway. England, or Norway? You can't believe how massive a decision it was. I tossed and turned about it for ages." Sometimes, sarcasm is the highest form of wit.

SYDNEY LINE-UPS

Australia

15 C Latham (Reds)

14 M Gerrard (Brumbies)

13 S Mortlock (Brumbies)

12 M Rogers (Waratahs)

11 L Tuqiri (Waratahs)

10 S Larkham (Brumbies)

9 G Gregan (Brumbies, capt)

1 G Holmes (Reds)

2 T McIsaac (Force)

3 R Blake (Reds)

4 N Sharpe (Force)

5 D Vickerman (Waratahs)

6 D Heenan (Brumbies)

8 R Elsom (Waratahs)

7 G Smith (Brumbies)

Replacements: 16 J Paul (Brumbies), 17 A Baxter (Waratahs), 18 M Chisholm (Brumbies), 19 P Waugh (Waratahs), 20 J Valentine (Reds), 21 C Rathbone (Brumbies), 22 C Shepherd (Force).

England

15 I Balshaw (Gloucester)

14 T Varndell (Leicester)

13 M Tait (Newcastle)

12 M Catt (London Irish)

11 T Voyce (Wasps)

10 O Barkley (Bath)

9 P Richards (Gloucester)

1 G Rowntree (Leicester)

2 L Mears (Bath)

3 J White (Leicester)

4 L Deacon (Leicester)

5 A Brown (Gloucester)

6 M Lund (Sale)

8 P Sanderson (Worcester, capt)

7 L Moody (Leicester)

Replacements: 16 G Chuter (Leicester), 17 T Payne (Wasps), 18 C Jones (Sale), 19 J Worsley (Wasps), 20 N Walshe (Bath), 21 A Goode (Leicester), 22 J Noon (Newcastle).

Referee: A Lewis (Ireland)

Kick-off: 11am

Live: Sky Sports 1

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
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

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?