England ready to name strong squad for two-Test Argentina tour

Those England players still mourning their failure to make the Lions squad have been advised to get over it and focus all their energies on their country's tour to Argentina.

England are poised to announce their tour party to face the Pumas on Wednesday and the management will spend Tuesdayfine-tuning their selection plans for the two-Test trip.

Speculation is rife that the captain, Chris Robshaw, could be rested, with Northampton's Tom Wood in line to deputise. But another possible Lions standby candidate, the centre Billy Twelvetrees, believes England need to travel to South America with their best-available side in an effort to remove the lingering disappointment of their heavy Six Nations defeat by Wales in Cardiff.

"It's a massive tour coming off the back of losing a grand slam," said Twelvetrees, who is keen for England to use the Argentina trip to regather some winning momentum. "There's a lot of frustration with how we finished the tournament so we'll be going there with everything to prove. There's a lot of boys who want to prove people wrong and get back to winning ways. It'll be a huge honour for anyone to go out there. Personally I've never been on an England tour before, so it would be great to be involved in one."

The head coach, Stuart Lancaster, will want all his players to travel with a similar mindset and has to weigh up whether to leave behind certain players who may benefit more from a full summer of rest. Robshaw, who has missed only one of England's last 16 internationals, falls into that category, as does the London Wasps lock Joe Launchbury, who has been nursing a neck problem.

Harlequins should have a better idea today whether Robshaw will recover sufficiently from an ankle problem to face Leicester in Saturday's Aviva Premiership semi-final at Welford Road. If Quins lose, it will potentially be the end of Robshaw's season, unless he chooses to play on in an England jersey with the specific aim of staying match-fit should the Lions suffer any back-row injuries in Australia and then require a replacement who is still in training.

Twelvetrees is in a similar situation, with Gloucester's season having already ended. But the centre is adamant he still has plenty in the tank. "It feels a bit early to be finishing the season. At Gloucester we were pretty angry and disappointed that we didn't push on into the top four, so if I get on the tour it'll be great. Whatever comes I'll take it with both hands, train well and hopefully take an opportunity. If I do that, anything can happen."

Leinster, meanwhile, have confirmed the Australian Matt O'Connor as their new head coach on a three-year deal. O'Connor will leave his current employers Leicester and replace Joe Schmidt on 1 July, having spent five seasons in the East Midlands.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Robert Kitson, for The Guardian on Monday 6th May 2013 22.00 Europe/London

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