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Last Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Robinson challenges touring party
Andy Robinson (left) and new defence coach Mike Ford
Robinson (left) wants competition for places ahead of the World Cup
England coach Andy Robinson has challenged his tour party to Australia to stake their claims for regular places ahead of the 2007 World Cup.

Robinson, who has rested a host of senior players for the two-Test tour, threw down the gauntlet before his squad flew from Heathrow on Monday.

"It's about being in possession of the shirt and it's about performing to stay in possession," he said.

"All you want is to be given a chance. These players have this opportunity."

Robinson has brought in exciting youngsters like Tom Varndell and Mathew Tait, who starred in the Commonwealth Games Sevens in Melbourne, and has recalled veteran Mike Catt, 34, from the international wilderness.

Robinson will also be working with the new coaching team of Brian Ashton (attack), John Wells (forwards) and Mike Ford (defence).

I don't understand losing and I've never prepared a side to go out there and contemplate losing

Andy Robinson

"A number of players probably thought the opportunity had gone - and maybe so did one of the coaches," said Robinson, referring to Ashton, who returned to England from Bath.

"He perhaps thought he would never coach England again and he's been given that opportunity. That's what life is about.

"I had a great relationship with the other coaches and I'm looking forward to working with Wellsy, Mike Ford and Brian.

"There have been no egos and hidden agendas about this so I've been pleased with the start. But it's going to take time for us to gel and see how we work together on the training field."

The new-look England beat the Barbarians 46-19 at Twickenham on Sunday and face Australia on 11 and 17 June.

And Robinson insisted that the lack of first-choice players would not affect how he approaches the Wallabies.

"I don't understand losing and I've never prepared a side to go out there and contemplate losing beforehand and we certainly will not be doing that," he said.

"We are looking at understanding how to beat Australia and putting systems in place to do that, however we perform. It's right for any England team whenever they take the field, it's vital they know how to win.

"One of the pleasing things for me is that in the last month of club and European rugby, and in the England game at the weekend, the players have performed very well after a long season and shown a lot of ambition."

Ashton eyes England improvement
28 May 06 |  Internationals
England 46-19 Barbarians
28 May 06 |  Internationals
Ashton named England attack coach
25 May 06 |  Internationals
Ford & Wells join England set-up
23 May 06 |  Internationals
Ruddock accepts Barbarians role
18 May 06 |  Internationals

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