Robinson steps into Wilkinson's shoes.
Jason Robinson makes his debut as England captain today ( and looks certain to keep the job for next week's Twickenham showdown with Tri-Nations champions South Africa.
Sale Sharks full-back Robinson is effectively guaranteed a winning start when England launch the post-Sir Clive Woodward era against an inexperienced Canadian outfit still reeling from their recent 51-6 loss to Italy. But whatever happens, there is no immediate sign of fly-half superstar Jonny Wilkinson ( appointed last month as skipper by new coach Andy Robinson ( returning to the international arena.
Wilkinson's bicep injury continues to be assessed by the England medical staff, yet it appears improbable he will recover in time for the Springboks challenge.
Everything then, is geared towards Robinson continuing in the role ( possibly against World Cup runners-up Australia later this month as well ( with England eagerly looking to recapture some form and finesse.
They've lost five of their last six Tests, beaten by New Zealand (twice), Australia, France and Ireland, but there is a fresh look to the squad ( and an enthusiasm pervading it ( ahead of England's season opener.
Coach Robinson has many areas to concentrate on, notably the performances of two new caps ( Sale wing Mark Cueto and Gloucester flanker Andy Hazell ( an untried centre combination of Mike Tindall and Henry Paul, while prop Graham Rowntree and flanker Lewis Moody are back following lengthy absences from Test match rugby.
"We've conceded 14 tries in our last three Tests," said England assistant coach and defence specialist Phil Larder.
"And with that situation, we lost the collective trust in our defence.
"We always had that trust until we lost it through a combination of defending badly and being at the end of a hugely-demanding playing programme. We expect so much of the players, but on the other hand, we've all had a rest now and it is a fresh start."
The Canadians will field a big pack, highlighted by the presence of 6ft 7in lock Mike Burak but they have lost injured fly-half Jared Barker and wing Mike Pyke.
Coach Ric Suggitt said: "We have absolutely nothing to lose, so we might as well see what happens. Our plan is to throw caution to the wind."
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|Publication:||The Journal (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Nov 13, 2004|
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