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Paul and Rowntree return for England
January 28, 2004

Coach Sir Clive Woodward chose Lawrence Dallaglio ahead of Johnson's vice-captain Jonny Wilkinson, Gloucester captain Phil Vickery, scrum-half Matt Dawson and back row forwards Neil Back and Richard Hill.

Woodward said that Dallaglio, who led Wasps to the Zurich Premiership last year and signed a new contract this week, was the "stand-out" choice for the captaincy.

He said to Skysports, "I was in the fortunate position of having a lot of outstanding players to consider for the captaincy role to follow in the footsteps of Martin Johnson, who was always going to be such a hard act for any player to follow, both on the pitch and in his leadership qualities.

"Many players have proven to me they could do the job, but in my opinion, Lawrence is the stand-out choice for Italy.

"I am really pleased for him, and I am confident he will be excellent in the role. As always, I will be appointing the captain on a game-by-game basis, a philosophy I've maintained since I've been in charge."

Dallaglio described the captaincy job as "a huge honour".

"I am very pleased to accept this responsibility," he said. "It is a huge honour and privilege, and Martin has certainly set a high standard. He is a world-class player, and is a great loss to England, but I respect his decision to retire.

"All teams move on and evolve, and England is no exception. The priority is to get selected on form, that's paramount. I see playing well as the key to success, and captaining your country is very special indeed."

Woodward also announced a 43-man training squad ahead of the Six Nations campaign, including 29 of England's 31 World Cup winners.

The two exceptions are the retired Johnson and winger Dan Luger, who has been omitted by mutual consent.

"I have spoken to Dan, and we both feel it's best for the time-being that he stays in France and settles down with his new club Perpignan, but he is in no way out of the picture with England and will be seriously considered for the future," Woodward added.

Among those returning to the England fray are Leicester prop Graham Rowntree and Gloucester's Henry Paul, who won his solitary cap as a substitute against France in Paris almost two years ago.

Woodward also confirmed that five players will not be considered for the Italy match due to injury - Stuart Abbott, Mike Tindall, Charlie Hodgson, Lewis Moody and Julian White.

Jonny Wilkinson and Mike Catt, meanwhile, will be reassessed next week, and have been named in Woodward's first post-World Cup squad.

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