Lancaster delighted by player positivity

PA Sport
Stuart Lancaster

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is determined to maintain momentum by taking as strong a squad as possible to South Africa this summer.

Lancaster has lifted spirits at Twickenham since last year's shambolic World Cup campaign by overseeing a promising performance in the recent Six Nations Championship.

He said: "The great thing is the mindset of the players, when I ask them, is they are all desperate to go. It is a fantastic benchmark to go to South Africa and play three games on tour... There is no reason not to take as strong a squad as possible. The way we finished the Six Nations hopefully won't be far off how we start the tour."

Lancaster's efforts, after he was initially appointed in an interim capacity, were enough to earn him the post full time and he now wants to press ahead into June's three-Test series in South Africa.

In a year with no World Cup or Lions tour, consideration might have been given to resting certain players but Lancaster insists there is no appetite from anyone for that as a new era begins.

One player who could come into consideration is Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, who missed the Six Nations after a series of off-field controversies. One matter remains the subject of police inquiries but Lancaster has met with the 25-year-old and is prepared to offer him another opportunity, form permitting.

Lancaster said: "I don't think you could exaggerate what has gone on - it is pretty serious. But equally, I think everyone deserves a second opportunity. Fundamentally he is a good person but lost his way a bit. I think he is back on the right track."

Another player in contention is Toulon flanker Steffon Armitage, despite the Rugby Football Union's stated preference not to select players based overseas.

Lancaster said: "We have this situation where, in exceptional circumstances, we have the opportunity to bring players back. Steffon is an example of that. He is clearly playing well, although we do have other players in his position playing well too. He is not out of the equation and he is one we will consider."

When asked if what constituted "exceptional circumstances" was up to him, Lancaster said: "Pretty much, yes."