Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby: Warrior Comes to the Aid of a Battered Side

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby: Warrior Comes to the Aid of a Battered Side

Article excerpt

Byline: By Andrew Baldock

WORLD Cup warrior Phil Vickery will return to the Test arena on Saturday in a wounded England squad almost battered into submission by their growing army of critics.

Vickery's appearance on the bench against South Africa at Twickenham arrives almost a year to the day since he last wore an England shirt.

The 30-year-old former England skipper (pictured ) has overcome more major back problems during an injury-hit career which sees his 47 caps span almost a nine-year period.

And his experience in just being around the training camp this week has provided a reassuring presence for under-fire head coach Andy Robinson as England strive to avoid suffering a record eighth successive defeat.

England's shambolic 25-18 loss against Argentina at the weekend turned the heat up on Robinson to an almost unbearable level, although victories in back-to-back appointments with South Africa should help keep the wolves at bay.

"It has been quite strange for me - Ididn't really know what to expect," said the Wasps prop, whose England recall means he misses a Guinness Premiership return to his former club Gloucester on Saturday.

"I was as disappointed as anyone after watching the game last weekend.

"There has been a lot of soul-searching going on, and we have had a good look at ourselves. There has been some pretty honest conversations taking place, and everyone is just looking forward to going out there on Saturday.

"The preparation and the intensity has been there, and rightly so, because last weekend was hugely disappointing for everyone.

"It's all very well losing, but if you don't deal with it, try to improve and learn the lessons, then there is not a lot of point in being here.

"The difference between success and failure is very, very small. I don't think there is one specific reason (for England's slump), I think it is the combination of a lot of things."

Vickery is among the candidates to captain England next week, given that current leader Martin Corry will not be available because of an agreement with Premier Rugby stipulating no player can start all four autumn Tests. …

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