Captain-elect Tindall fit for Cardiff cauldron

The Gloucester centre Mike Tindall, a short-priced favourite to beat Nick Easter to the England captaincy against Wales on Friday, was back on the training field yesterday, as were the Leeds flanker Hendre Fourie and the Wasps lock Simon Shaw, neither of whom played an active part in last week's red-rose camp in Portugal.

"Both Mike and Hendre are fit for selection," confirmed Martin Johnson. "As for Simon, there was nothing wrong with him anyway. It's just that when you get to his age, there aren't that many good days."

This light-hearted remark was entirely in keeping with the manager's mood: not sunny, exactly – no one ever accused Johnson of that – but relaxed. He may have lost three of his quickest, most athletic forwards in Courtney Lawes, Tom Croft and Lewis Moody, and seen an entire line-out strategy go up in smoke as a result of their various orthopaedic concerns, but he did not have the look of a man struggling to get to sleep at night. "We know we must strike the right balance in the back five of the pack," he acknowledged, "but we have good choices available to us. The people we've brought into the squad give us all the options we need."

It was left to his close colleague Graham Rowntree, who brings so much more to the back-room operation than an acute appreciation of the scrummager's art, to sharpen things up a little. "What do I expect in Cardiff? I expect a storm," he said. "Wales are under pressure. I think the last week has shown us they're under pressure."

Having made this reference to the widely-publicised Welsh vilification of Dylan Hartley, the England hooker, Rowntree ventured boldly into "I've started, so I'll finish" territory by adding: "Dylan is the least of my worries. Is he aggressive? Yes. Can he keep his composure? Yes. He plays with passion but I have no concerns about him over-stepping the mark."

There are many who believe that the Hartley affair adds to the gaiety of the nation – or rather, the gaiety of the Six Nations – and it may well be that Johnson is among them. During his own playing days, he occupied the place in Welsh hearts that Hartley occupies now. Did it prey on his mind? Did it heck. Judging by the way he talked yesterday, he considered, and still considers, the high level of anti-English hostility generated by the Cardiff crowd to be one of the things that make rugby life worth living.

"This game isn't about me or my memories, but Cardiff has always been a great place to play, and playing there at the start of a Six Nations tournament in World Cup year adds something," he said. "England teams have never been the most popular down there, but that's fine: the trip to the stadium straight through the middle of town was one of the better bus journeys. I'd rather have hostility than polite indifference."

Johnson will name his side tomorrow. There is little doubt about the shape of the back division, still less about the make-up of the front row now that the Welsh obsession with Hartley has made him close to undroppable. The rest of the pack is an issue. Strong cases can be made on behalf of Shaw, Louis Deacon, James Haskell, Joe Worsley and the uncapped Northampton flanker Tom Wood, only two of whom are likely to start, but the manager says he will make his decisions for proactive reasons rather than reactive ones.

"We've probably been too reactive in the past," he admitted when asked to reflect on occasions when individuals were selected purely to stop opponents playing, rather than play themselves. "Now, we're more settled. We know our players and what they bring a little better than we did, largely because guys have come into the side and performed well. The exciting thing is that the youngsters in the team are not being picked because they're young, but because they're the best."

Meanwhile, the England prop Paul Doran-Jones will leave Gloucester at the end of the season after agreeing terms with Northampton.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
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

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?