Saturday 16 December 2017

England unfazed by likely Tindall loss

Mick Cleary

England centre Mike Tindall faces a race against time to be fit for Saturday's match after sustaining an ankle injury against Scotland last Sunday.

Bath's Matt Banahan is primed to continue in the role he filled so well when coming on at half-time at Twickenham if Tindall fails to make it, while Nick Easter is on standby to take over as captain.

England scrum coach Graham Rowntree believes the side are well-equipped to cope on the leadership front, declaring that the young players who have come through this season have added value on all fronts.

"I think this group are even more ambitious than the 2003 (World Cup-winning) side," said Rowntree. "These guys are very demanding of each other and of us as coaches. I have not seen it before. We give them the menu and they decide how to play."

One of those players is Alex Corbisiero, the 22-year-old London Irish prop, who was pressed into action against Italy at just 24 hours' notice and has since shone against France and Scotland.

Corbisiero revealed that he had received positive feedback from Jason Leonard when he introduced himself to the record-breaking former prop at the post-Scotland banquet.

"He told me to be a sponge and soak up everything I could," said Corbisiero, who will certainly be acting on the maestro's playing advice if not attempting to emulate him on the extra-curricular activities enjoyed by those of the amateur era.

"I'm not a big drinker but it was a great conversation. Jason stressed the need to store away every little detail for use in the future."

Four England players have made the 12-man shortlist for the player of the tournament.

Chris Ashton, Toby Flood, James Haskell and Tom Palmer are joined by Wales' duo, Sam Warburton and James Hook, Ireland's Sean O'Brien and Ronan O'Gara, France pair Thierry Dusautoir and Maxime Medard, with Italy represented by scrum-half, Fabio Semenzato and full-back, Andrea Masi. Supporters can cast their vote for the winner online.

Irish Independent

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