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Vickery asks for England patience

England scrum-half Danny Care tries to break away from the Australia defence
Scrum-half Danny Care was making only his third start against Australia

England prop Phil Vickery has urged Martin Johnson to stick with the young tyros who suffered a first defeat of his managerial reign against Australia.

Vickery, sole survivor of England's 2003 World Cup-winning team, believes patience will reap rewards in future.

"Potentially the guys in this squad are going to be great players for England.

"I hope 'Johnno' sticks with and shows faith in a lot of the guys because they deserve it," said Vickery, whose own spot is under threat from Matt Stevens.

"It's about getting the right balance. You don't suddenly develop a Neil Back, a Richard Hill, a Martin Johnson, a Jason Leonard or a Lawrence Dallaglio. It takes a bit of time.

"At times there were some fantastic things happening out there. It was exciting to be involved. We looked knackered, but when you looked at their guys it made us feel better, so we must have been doing something right.

"You couldn't fault anyone for effort and endeavour, but it doesn't make up for the fact that we were found wanting."

We need to improve basics - Johnson

Johnson is confident his side "will get better" and is sure to point out the chances missed to inflict damage on the Wallabies when they reconvene on Monday ahead of Saturday's Test against South Africa.

"We have got an exciting team and that hasn't changed," he told BBC Sport after Saturday's 28-14 loss.

"We have got to a) recognise the opportunities and b) do something about it."

Nevertheless Johnson may contemplate changes in each row of his pack.

Prop Stevens, who made a big impact as a temporary replacement before half-time and then a permanent one after 54 minutes, lock Simon Shaw, and flankers James Haskell and Michael Lipman could all be considered for starting spots.

Phil Vickery (centre) makes a point to fellow front-rowers Andrew Sheridan (right) and Lee Mears
Vickery (centre) and Andrew Sheridan (right) did not dominate as expected
The fitness of prop Andrew Sheridan, who limped off late on after a frustrating afternoon against an improved Australian scrum, will also be assessed before his availability is confirmed.

Johnson indicated he may have to rein in some of his players' natural attacking instincts when a more pragmatic strategy is required.

"Occasionally guys went a bit off-script and went with instinct rather than what we were trying to achieve," he added.

"If you're doing one thing and 14 others are doing something different, that allows the opposition to force errors and turnovers."

Johnson might have been thinking of scrum-half Danny Care, who chose to run a quick tap penalty inside the Australian half after 24 minutes when England were trailing 6-3.

His pass out of contact hit the back of Stirling Mortlock's head and the Wallabies regained possession.

Tom Fordyce blog
Or perhaps flanker Tom Rees, who when the outcome was still in doubt in the third quarter, took the ball into contact with three players offering a possible overlap outside him, and Mortlock again forced a turnover.

Vickery believes young players such as Rees, Care and fly-half Danny Cipriani, who made two superb breaks but struggled with his kicking and game management, must not be overly shackled, however.

"If we have ambitions to become one of the best teams in world rugby you can't afford to go into your shell," he added. "You have to put yourself in some awkward positions.

"On the way you'll get some bumps, but I see an exciting group of guys. We'd love for it to work right away. It hasn't happened, but there was a lot of good out there."

Captain Steve Borthwick, whose own role was questioned after an ineffective game as a lock and leader, believes a more composed approach is required.

"The effort was admirable, the competitiveness was outstanding, we just need to ensure that is tempered with control," he told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek.

"Ultimately this group of players all care passionately about playing for England and are very passionate Englishmen.

"After a game like that, it is important the team is very tight together, as this group is. We have got a couple of big games coming up now and want to ensure we get the results we want."



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see also
England 14-28 Australia
15 Nov 08 |  English
International photos
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott column
13 Nov 08 |  English
Cipriani told to improve defence
13 Nov 08 |  English
England recall Palmer & Vickery
11 Nov 08 |  English
England 39-13 Pacific Islanders
08 Nov 08 |  English
England 12-10 Australia
06 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union
England 26-16 Australia
12 Nov 05 |  Internationals


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