Dickson: I am ready to start for England
February 17, 2012
Lee Dickson has impressed from the bench for England © Getty Images
England scrum-half Lee Dickson is adamant that he is ready to start for Stuart Lancaster's side with fellow half-back Ben Youngs struggling for form.
England's interim head coach Stuart Lancaster is considering changes for the Twickenham showdown and Dickson could not have done any more to state his case for a promotion. While Youngs is scratching around trying to rediscover his lost spark, Dickson made a game-changing impact off the bench against Italy last weekend.
The Northampton scrum-half brought tempo and urgency into England's game at the Stadio Olimpico as they rallied from nine points down to win 19-15. Dickson, whose performance was highlighted by Lancaster, believes he could be just as effective from the kick-off against the Triple Crown-chasing Welsh.
"Yes, I am very confident," Dickson said. "I drive my standards myself, every day in training - my ability to get around the park as quick as I can, get my forwards working hard for me and organising defence.
"I know I am very capable of doing that from the start. Ben Youngs is a great player in his own right. It's the coaches' decision who they want to pick. We've got two great nines here so I've just got to see what they say.
"It has a lot of time for me to get here. Every day, I am so happy to be here and wanting to play for my country. I always knew it would come - and now I'm just seizing the moment."
Dickson is acutely aware this could be his best chance of laying claim to England's prized number nine jersey, with Youngs frustrated by his form, Danny Care suspended and Richard Wigglesworth injured. It is something he has been working towards ever since he pulled out of a Royal Marines training camp in 2004 and opted to play rugby over following his father, Major Steve Dickson, into the armed forces.
"I was born in Germany while my Dad was over there. When I was 12 we went to boarding school," said Dickson, who was sent to Barnard Castle, alma mater of Rob Andrew and the Underwood brothers. "My Dad was in the Royal Signals for 20-30 years. He went to Iraq, Bosnia - he did it all. It was near enough dead cert that I would follow him into the forces.
"I had signed up for the Marines pre-training. Then John Fletcher and Peter Walton asked me to join the Newcastle academy. I made the decision to follow my dream to play rugby and it's paid off. Now, about eight years after they offered me that chance, I am playing for England."
Dickson has become Northampton's heartbeat since moving to Franklin's Gardens in 2008 and he always retained the faith he would play for England. The hard part was convincing the national coach.
Martin Johnson preferred Youngs, Care, Wigglesworth and Joe Simpson to Dickson - but those setbacks simply fuelled his desire and acted as daily motivation in training.
"I was very frustrated a few years ago and I used that as an incentive to work hard on my basic skills and not change my philosophies," said Dickson. "I never thought it wouldn't come because I'm a very positive person. I always go out to train every day wanting to do well for Northampton, to get to play for England.
"That was always my dream from day one and I work hard every day with my coach, Alan Dickens, on my passing and kicking. I'm very much an energetic, loudmouth around the park but I have worked hard on my game-management in the last couple of years.
"You need that for the next step up and I've worked really hard with him in the last two years. It's paying off now."
Dickson's England chances appeared to have been dashed after he suffered a fractured bone in his hand against Scotland that was initially expected to keep him out of action for a month. His elder brother Karl Dickson, Care's understudy at Harlequins, was briefly drafted in but the injury proved nowhere near as serious as first feared.
While Dickson impressed against Italy, following his 50th-minute introduction alongside number eight Ben Morgan, Youngs was frustrated on the bench.
"The match didn't go as well as I would have liked," said Youngs, who snatched his jacket when he was taken off. I was frustrated at myself. The game was just breaking up and if I had got things right in the first half maybe it would have been different, but it wasn't.
"I think I play best when I play what I see, and just go with it. Perhaps I haven't been doing that of late, I have been trying to force things, trying too hard. It is best for me to relax, let the game flow and hopefully my natural game will take over."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September