Rugby Union

Stuart Lancaster shouldn't worry about discipline issues

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With the Webb Ellis Cup currently situated somewhere between Belfast and Banbridge as it travels around in a 100 day tour of Great Britain to mark the start of this autumn's Rugby World Cup, host-nation England are having anything but an ideal preparation for the tournament.

A repeated on-field lapse in judgement from hooker Dylan Hartley, and the off-field antics of  centre Manu Tuilagi mean that both were subsequently released from England head coach Stuart Lancaster's World Cup squad.

Worse still, fly-half Danny Cipriani is another potential player who could be withdrawn from the England set-up after the player was involved in an alleged drink-driving incident earlier this month. Although he remains safe pending the outcome of an ongoing police investigation concerning the incident.

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However, despite losing a number of key players in the build-up to this year's World Cup, England fans needn't worry as their strength in depth  is more then enough to cope with these recent losses.

WARBURTON AGREES

This is a belief shared by Wales' captain Sam Warburton who does not believe that England should be concerned about their recent losses as he feels they will have no relevance ahead of the two sides impending fixture in this year's competition.

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As reported by the BBC, he stated: "I think England have got great strength in depth and they proved that against us in Cardiff earlier this year, they will be okay.

He added that England have previously been in a similar situation and managed to do well, albeit under slightly differing circumstances when players were missing through injury rather then suspended for their disciplinary issues.

"It didn't affect them in the Six Nations, they had a lot of players out but they come away from home and beat us, they deserve a massive amount of credit for that."

READYMADE REPLACEMENTS

In the case of Hartley, who has been a mainstay in the England starting XV as hooker, his headbutt to an opposition player during last month's Premiership final means that he was awarded a four match ban which would have ruled him out of the majority of England's World cup warm-up matches.

Lancaster swiftly took action to remove the 29-year-old and replace him with Saracens' Jamie George, ironically the player Hartley chose to headbutt.

However, with George added to the squad to complement Tom Youngs, who will now most likely start as hooker, the two have shown more then enough in last season's Premiership to suggest that Hartley is not missed.

The same can be said about Manu Tuilagi. Withdrawn after admitting to assaulting a police officer in an off-field incident it is easy to see why Lancaster came to that decision. Though, with the long-term groin injury has ruled the centre out from the England team for the majority of last season, his absence has already been accounted for with the emergence of Bath back Jonathon Joseph.

The agile centre may not possess the same explosive power of Tuilagi, however his movement with ball ball in hand means he offers a different attacking dynamic that has been most effective for club and country this season.

Now with just three months remaining until the rugby World Cup kicks off, it is unknown weather England will exclude further players until the investigations surrounding Cipriani are concluded. However, with a long string of hopefuls ready to fill the void, there needn't be any concern.

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Topics:
Rugby Union
England Rugby
Manu Tuilagi
Wales Rugby
Sam Warburton
Danny Cipriani

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