June International Tours

Deans sets sights on England for Barbarians double

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Barbarians coach Robbie Deans is hoping that he can rub salt into the wounds of an England team still reeling from losing two crucial players in Manu Tuilagi and Dylan Hartley four months before the World Cup.

The Barbarians coach also wants to see his team live up to the traditional attacking ideals of rugby’s most famous invitational side when they face an England XV at Twickenham on Sunday.

Former Wallaby boss Deans will doubtless have some sympathy for Stuart Lancaster as the England coach attempts to stay calm and composed following suspensions handed out to Tuilagi and Hartley.

England centre Tuilagi was ruled out of World Cup contention earlier this month after being found guilty of assaulting a couple of female police officers and a taxi driver.

Meanwhile Red Rose hooker Hartley was axed by Lancaster on Friday after he was banned from all of England’s warm-up matches and the hosts’ tournament opener against Fiji at Twickenham on September 18, having been suspended on Wednesday for headbutting Saracens’ Jamie George during club side Northampton’s Premiership 29-24 semi-final defeat last weekend.

Having seen the Barbarians snatch a thrilling 22-21 victory over Ireland at Limerick’s Thomond Park on Thursday, Deans said: “It would be a fantastic achievement to beat any England team at Twickenham.

“It doesn’t matter which England XV are put on the field, they have such strength in depth and you know it will be a proper test and battle,” added Deans, New Zealand’s full-back when they lost 15-9 to England at Twickenham in 1983.

“The game is not just about pure entertainment but also about courage and the way you work for your team-mates. It’s the ultimate team sport. So you have to be prepared to do the stuff that’s not as visible.

“I think we had both elements on Thursday and we will of course be aiming for the same again at Twickenham when it will be an even bigger and tougher challenge for a team which has only been together for a short period of time.

“That’s the enjoyment and the challenge of being in charge of the Barbarians. You can come together in a frivolous way and have fun, but then forget about the meaning and what you are doing.

“The Barbarians won’t survive over time if it’s just frivolous.”

Deans has added US Eagles star Samu Manoa, 30, to his Barbarians squad for the visit to the venue for this year’s World Cup Final.

Northampton’s powerful back-five forward is set to join European champions titans Toulon in the close season .

As for Lancaster, he will hope his ‘fringe’ players put their hands up and create the kind of selection headaches he enjoys, rather than the enforced ones presented by indiscipline on and off the field.

The likes of fly-half Danny Cipriani and scrum-half Lee Dickson have either in or around England’s starting line-up for some time without really gaining favour with Lancaster.

Other younger players chosen by Lancaster, such as versatile back Henry Slade and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie will also look to enhance their growing reputations against a star-studded Barbarians team.

“It’s a massive opportunity for any of the guys just on the outside of the first team to press their claims for a start in the August warm-up matches or even the World Cup squad,” said Lancaster.

“I’ve always got an open mind and with players like Tuilagi and now Hartley unavailable, there is even more reason for players to put themselves up for selection further down the line.

“Naturally, it is very disappointing about Dylan because he has been a vital cog in our big wheel. He has been an important player for us but now we have to forget about him.

“Fortunately, the next generation of hookers is looking very strong.

“We have a young lad in Luke Cowan-Dickie who has been very impressive in training this week. He and Tommy Taylor are the future of England hookers.”

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