ENGLAND interim rugby coach Stuart Lancaster has asked former Manchester United captain Gary Neville to give a motivational talk to his squad during their training camp in Leeds in preparation for their Six Nations campaign.
Neville, who won 85 caps for England’s football team, is expected to address Lancaster’s 32-man elite player squad about what it means to represent their country on the international stage and the importance of discipline.
Lancaster is determined to draw a line in the sand under the disastrous World Cup campaign in New Zealand that was blighted by a series of off-field disciplinary problems and he believes Neville’s renowned passion and commitment to both United and England will rub off on his new-look squad.
Neville will be one of a number of high-profile speakers to address the England squad, who will be based at Yorkshire Division Two club West Park Leeds for a four-day training camp, starting next Monday, as part of Lancaster’s bid to ensure his players reconnect with the grassroots game.
Under former manager Martin Johnson, in recent seasons England have travelled to the Algarve to stay in a luxurious warm-weather training base.
Lancaster has also invited Hugh Morris, the England cricket managing director, and British Cycling’s performance director, Dave Brailsford, to address the squad on elite performance.
England rugby league players Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield, as well as Simon Brown, a former army corporal who was shot in the face while serving in Iraq, have also been asked to speak on the significance of representing the nation.
“These people know all about what it means to represent their country, what it means to fight for their country,” Lancaster said. “We want to create a sense of what a privileged place it is to be in elite sport. Cycling and cricket have clearly done something well, haven’t they?”
Brown, who was invited to speak to Warrington’s rugby league team before a 2010 Challenge Cup match, which Warrington won, said he would remind the players to be proud to wear the England shirt.
Brown said he would tell Lancaster’s squad: “You guys are the cream of the cream of English rugby, you are young, you are talented, player for player you can stand against the best players in the world.
“But you are also young and you need to learn. So why not go out there and just show what you can do. Be proud to wear your national shirt. Rugby is fun and you are earning money doing what you love to do. How many of us wouldn’t offer up limbs to have the opportunity to put on our national shirt, and you guys have that opportunity.”
Meanwhile, England and Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care will appear at Southampton Magistrates Court today to face a charge of drink driving.
Care, 25, was stopped by police at Winchester Services on the M3 in the early hours of New Year’s Day, as revealed by The Daily Telegraph.
Care has already been dropped from the England squad for the duration of the RBS Six Nations Championship and fined £10,000 by Harlequins for the incident. He intends to plead guilty.
“I do accept that I made a very bad decision on the evening in question and need to take the punishment that the courts hand out,” Care said in a statement issued after the incident. “I have decided not to contest the charge as I want to bring this to a close swiftly rather than have it hanging over my head for a year or more.”