Young Lions tipped to wipe out shame

SIX NA­TIONS RUGBY UNION

Midweek Sport - - RACING EXTRA -

GRA­HAM ROWN­TREE is back­ing a young Eng­land side to start ban­ish­ing the coun­try’s World Cup shame in Satur­day’s Cal­cutta Cup show­down.

Rown­tree is the only sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the Eng­land man­age­ment team from the World Cup, a failed cam­paign which left him “ashamed” and sul­lied the rep­u­ta­tion of red rose rugby.

The fall-out was bru­tal – but for­wards boss Rown­tree was re­tained by in­terim head coach Stu­art Lan­caster to help build a new Eng­land team with a new cul­ture.

Rown­tree ex­pects Scot­land will rel­ish the chance in their Six Na­tions opener to wel­come a raw Eng­land side, pos­si­bly fea­tur­ing three un­capped play­ers, into the hos­tile sur­rounds of Mur­ray­field.

If Owen Far­rell, Brad Bar­ritt and Phil Dow­son are given their Test de­buts, they are tipped to be joined by Mouritz Botha and new cap­tain Chris Rob­shaw, who have just one Test cap apiece.

Rown­tree is happy to con­cede Eng­land are un­der­dogs – but he warned Scot­land not to un­der­es­ti­mate his men on the grounds of Test match ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Scot­land al­ways save a pas­sion up for us,” said Rown­tree.

“Go­ing up there, es­pe­cially at this point in time, given where we have been, the un­speak­able past, they will be lick­ing their lips.

“We will be ex­pect­ing that. Those emo­tions and those ex­pe­ri­ences of run­ning out on the field are what drive you as a player.

En­ergy

“It is a fact we are un­der­dogs in terms of ex­pe­ri­ence. No-one ex­pects us to do well.

“We’ll have some­thing to say about that. We have not got as much ex­pe­ri­ence as pre­vi­ous teams, but these guys are good enough.

“What has im­pressed me has been the en­ergy and ea­ger­ness to get us up and run­ning again.

“We reached a bit of a low as a na­tional team, but we dropped that within two days of be­ing to­gether.

“If you look in our dress­ing room, there is plenty of pas­sion and English­ness there.

“Away games in club land and the Test arena are what makes it spe­cial. I envy the play­ers.”

BRIGHT FU­TURE: Owen Far­rell is hop­ing to make his Test de­but with Brad Bar­ritt (top inset) and Phil Dow­son (be­low inset)

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