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Right impression key for Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster insists England will return to the setting of the reputation-damaging episodes of 2008 and 2011 determined to repair their image.

The last two visits to New Zealand have seen poor performances on the pitch and shameful moments off it.

The 2008 tour and World Cup three years later were marred by poor behaviour from players and Lancaster is adamant there will be no repeat during next month's three-Test series against the All Blacks.

"We've let ourselves down in our previous two visits to New Zealand and we need to make sure we leave there as good ambassadors for England," the head coach said.

"We also need to leave New Zealand with their country respecting us as a team and a group. Absolutely I'll be making that point before we leave."

England's start to the tour is being hampered by the fixture congestion that means they face the All Blacks in Auckland on June 7 without those players involved in the Aviva Premiership final on May 31.

Flanker Tom Wood has described the situation as "ridiculous" and Lancaster is resigned to a scenario he inherited and has been unable to alter.

"It's hard to disagree with the way Tom articulated it. Tom, like everyone else, is very frustrated by the situation," Lancaster said.

"We get very few opportunities to go to a country like New Zealand and play against them, so you want to go with your best side.

"But it's something I've known for a long time and I'm trying to get on with the practicalities of it."

England have named a 20-strong preliminary training squad headlined by the return of Danny Cipriani in his first international recognition since winning the last of his seven caps in 2008.

Cipriani, whose Test career floundered amid concerns over his attitude and celebrity lifestyle, will most likely face the Barbarians on June 1, but could yet tour New Zealand.

"I'm persuaded to give Danny an opportunely. As with all players, I'll judge Danny when he comes into camp," Lancaster said.

"I'll arrange a one to one with every player who comes into camp. His might be a little bit longer.

"You have to earn the right by playing well for your club and behaving on and off the field.

"Perhaps before that wasn't the case, but it is now so create the opportunity.

"Sale's collective performance has helped because they've been playing well.

"I didn't feel the time was right before the Six Nations, I didn't think he'd earned the right or played well enough consistently enough. Since that point he has improved."


From Belfast Telegraph