Vickery admits England are back to square one

Jonny Wilkinson, Andy Farrell, Jason Robinson... now that the big names are queueing up to play rather than queueing for treatment, the red-rose faithful are talking about England hanging on to the World Cup they won in 2003, rather than handing it back this autumn with a mumbled apology for having ideas above their station.

Such talk does not impress Phil Vickery, the new captain, who yesterday sought to place tomorrow's Calcutta Cup match with Scotland in its proper perspective. "People go on about us restoring our reputation, but we don't have a reputation any more," the yeoman prop from Cornwall said.

"This game is about putting some building blocks in place, nothing more. What did we get out of the four international matches we played last November? Not a lot, frankly. We have to get a good deal more out of these Six Nations games if we're going to be in any shape for the big thing coming up at the end of the year.

"I want to see some blood and guts from us - if you're picked to play for your country, I expect people to make the most of it. But we need more than that. We need to start putting some passages of play together, and quickly. We don't have a great deal of time available to us."

Vickery will win his 50th cap tomorrow, as will Mike Tindall, the Gloucester centre, and Martin Corry, the Leicester No 8 and former national captain. As a result of this statistical coincidence, there are decisions to be made straight away. Is Vickery sufficiently fleet of foot to beat the other two out of the tunnel? "We'll play 'paper, scissors, stone' to decide who goes out first," he replied.

He is not a complete stranger to the captaincy, having led an experimental England team to a famous victory over Argentina in Buenos Aires in 2002 - a win subsequently identified by Sir Clive Woodward, no less, as a significant staging post on the road to the Webb Ellis Trophy - and also led them in the 100-point slaughter of Uruguay during the pool stage of the 2003 tournament. This is different, though.

"A Six Nations match brings its own pressure and the expectation on us is greater than usual," Vickery admitted. "How will I feel in the dressing room before kick-off? I'll be pretty emotional, I expect. Professionalism has changed attitudes to a certain degree, but as far as I'm concerned, money is not the driving force. I'd be a foolish person if I allowed that to become my motivation.

"You don't play tight-head prop without having the necessary will and desire. I'm proud to play for my country, I want to be a part of a winning side and to be picked as captain... well, it's the greatest honour anyone could have given me."

For the moment, Vickery's starting combination remains intact. Iain Balshaw, the Gloucester full-back, is struggling with a groin problem and faces a further assessment today. The bench has changed, however. Lewis Moody, the replacement flanker, did not pass muster yesterday after a shoulder injury in training and has given way to the uncapped Wasps open-side specialist Tom Rees.

"I feel pretty bad for Lewis; it's not the way I would want to be picked in an ideal world," said Rees, whose own shoulder problems prevented his debut during the autumn Tests. "But if I get my chance, I have to try to take it."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
'Prison Architect' players decide the fate of inmates
tech
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor