Andrew: Players need to perform

Rob Andrew has urged England to deliver a "massive performance" when the struggling world champions tackle South Africa on Saturday. [more]

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Rob Andrew has urged England to deliver a "massive performance" when the struggling world champions tackle South Africa on Saturday.

The game – England’s penultimate Test during what is becoming a nightmare autumn series – could also take head coach Andy Robinson further down the road towards oblivion.

Robinson has effectively been given a two-game reprieve by his Rugby Football Union bosses after overseeing a demoralising run of seven successive defeats.

And, unless he gets it right in back-to-back appointments with the Springboks at Twickenham, his England job prospects beyond this month appear bleak.

England were booed off the pitch by a 74,000 crowd following their 25-18 loss to Argentina – their first ever home defeat to the Pumas – and mass changes are likely.

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Captain Martin Corry and fly-half Charlie Hodgson are among those who could miss out, with hardly an area of the team from back-three to back-row likely to survive unscathed.

"The support at Twickenham has been outstanding down the years," said former England fly-half Andrew, the RFU’s elite rugby director.

"The players and the coaches have a big responsibility, and it is now down to them.

"We need a massive performance from the players and the crowd on Saturday to give England a huge lift, because it is required."

Robinson emerged intact from what Andrew termed "an open and frank" debrief between the two ex-England playing colleagues on Monday.

They were joined by RFU chief executive Francis Baron, Club England chairman John Spencer and RFU management board chairman Martyn Thomas.

But Andrew has also targeted England’s lack of on-pitch leadership as a major reason for the present malaise, and fingers are likely to be pointed at key decision-makers ahead of today’s scheduled team announcement.

Andrew added: "We need to look at leadership and selection.

"There were some directional issues at the weekend, and I am not just talking about the captain, but about all the other leaders on the pitch as well. These have to be resolved.

"Andy has been looking at the leadership issue for the last 18 months and, again, I would stress it’s not all about the captaincy but all the players making decisions on the pitch and their key roles.

"Leadership is a major area for any team. We have to address it and try to improve it.

"We are looking at all sorts of issues during this period that actually go towards making up a really top-quality side. Results speak for themselves, and therefore that suggests things aren’t right.

"We are not hiding and saying things are right when clearly they are not. Andy knows that, the players know that and probably the world knows it, because that is the nature of things."

If Corry loses the job as skipper, then it could open the door for World Cup-winning prop Phil Vickery, who has previously led England in successful fashion, while his Wasps colleague Lawrence Dallaglio would be another candidate, albeit a considerable outside bet.

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