Andrew sees no excuses for England
October 29, 2009
Rob Andrew believes the November international will be a good barometer of England's progress © Getty Images
Rob Andrew believes that England's injury problems cannot be used as an excuse as they prepare for a challenging Test series.
Andrew wants England to show progress in meetings with Australia, Argentina and New Zealand despite the squad being shorn of several leading lights.
A full British & Irish Lions capped front-row, Andrew Sheridan, Lee Mears and Phil Vickery, is joined on the treatment table by flanker Tom Rees, fullback Delon Armitage and centre Riki Flutey.
Andrew, England's director of elite rugby, sees the injury cloud as an opportunity to showcase the strength-in-depth of English rugby.
Last season's November series represented a low ebb for Martin Johnson's youthful regime, with hammerings dished out by the three Tri-Nations powers at Twickenham.
"By the end of the autumn, we'll have an idea of where this group of players is," he said. "More than anything, it will prove how much strength in depth we have. That's now being tested in certain parts of the team.
"There is a lot of experience coming back into the group, players who are playing well. It will be great to see some of them back in the squad. As always, there are challenges - that's the nature of the international game. I think there is a lot of enthusiasm.
"Yes, there are injuries. But that goes with the territory, and the players are raring to go. We will know by the end of the autumn how much progress has been made.
"We've made a lot of progress in the last 12 months - and we want to start where we left off at the end of last season as quickly as possible. This has been made more challenging by the amount of changes we've had to make."
England parted company with former head coach Andy Robinson in 2006 following a disastrous autumn. But Andrew reports Johnson will remain place until 2011, whatever unfolds next month.
"We have made it very clear Martin is here to take this team through to the World Cup. We are building," he said.
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin
After Brian O'Driscoll's emotional final Ireland appearance on home soil, and seeing the Six Nations boil down to a three-horse race, we bring you the Weekend in Pictures