Stuart Lancaster: England will be ready to put on a show despite injuries
England head coach insists that his squad can overcome "bad luck" to tackle southern hemisphere giants in QBE Internationals
Stuart Lancaster insists that England can overcome their bad luck to put on a show against the southern hemisphere giants despite a mounting injury list.
The England head coach was forced to call up Leicester Tigers lock Graham Kitchener after Wasps star Joe Launchbury was ruled out of the QBE Internationals with a persistent neck problem on Sunday.
It’s a huge game against the world champions and we want to put on a show for 80,000 fans
But Lancaster believes his squad will be ready to take on New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.
“We’re in a better position now than we were in the last Test against New Zealand in November,” Lancaster said.
“The players who are here have trained very well. They had a great week last week.
“It is often the case that you bring lads in and they step up and that is what they will have to do this time with a very experienced, cohesive All Blacks team coming to Twickenham.
“It’s a huge game against the world champions and we want to put on a show for 80,000 fans.
“That’s what we’re looking forward to. The players will be ready. It’s been limited preparation time and it’s been a bit disrupted with injuries but we’ll be ready on Saturday.”
Launchbury, who excelled for England during this year’s Six Nations campaign, was the latest in a line of experienced internationals forwards ruled out of the series, including fellow locks Geoff Parling and Ed Slater, props Alex Corbisiero, Mako Vunipola and Dan Cole, hooker Tom Youngs, flanker Tom Croft, and centre Manu Tuilagi.
Northampton Saints centre Luther Burrell and outside-half Stephen Myler have also been ruled out of the first Test.
Admitting there was an element of bad luck to the injuries, Lancaster feels there is now an opportunity for other players to come through and to create more depth ahead of next year’s Six Nations and Rugby World Cup.
“There are probably more in the same position this time,” he added. “The front five in particular losing Corbisiero, Cole and Tom Youngs. It opens up the opportunity now.
“The good thing is it opens up opportunities for others to put a marker. When we get them all back for the Six Nations and the World Cup camp there will be some real selection problems.”
Despite Kitchener’s call-up, it is Bath’s Dave Attwood who is expected to get the nod to start alongside Northampton’s Courtney Lawes in the second row against New Zealand on Saturday.
“George Kruis has been excellent and we have got Graham Kitchener but, more importantly, Dave Atwood and Courtney Lawes, who are pretty experienced second rows for us,” Lancaster said
There was some positive news on the injury front for Lancaster as centre Kyle Eastmond, and props Joe Marler and David Wilson were passed fit and deemed available for selection.
Saturday 8 November: England vs New Zealand
Saturday 15 November: England vs South Africa
Saturday 22 November: England vs Samoa
Saturday 29 November: England vs Australia