It'll never really catch on, this new-fangled idea of Premiership rugby players spending time at their clubs, so it's good to see international rugby back on the horizon after such a long absence.

It's been nearly two months, you know.

With the phoney war now over, we're back into the rugby season's raison d'etre - filling the coffers, cash tills and any other receptacle in the same postal district as Twickenham.

I suppose we should be grateful because at least it will stop Leicester Tigers from dominating the domestic game the way their undoubted supremacy deserves to - but then, that's what the play-offs are for, isn't it?

England coach Andy Robinson yesterday selected the 30 men he considers to be most likely to save his neck, at least until after the next World Cup, and an interesting declaration of intent it was too.

Even though he shouldn't even have been there when his team was touring North America, it seems as though the England head coach has learned something during his doomed excursion to New Zealand in the summer.

But then the message, delivered in an All Black envelope and post-marked with a silver fern, could hardly be misinterpreted, could it? The next world title will not be won by the men or in the style of the last.

For that reason Julian White, Will Greenwood, Ben Cohen and Andy Gomarsall have been allowed to pursue their careers away from such a cynical public eye, although in Greenwood's case, he's out of sight altogether and it's about time, too.

Clive Woodward failed to heed the lessons provided by England's dismal failures last season and condemned his British Lions to such avoidable embarrassment in doing so.

International rugby has moved on. Wales showed that with their delightful Grand Slam victory in last season's Six Nations Championship and New Zealand underlined it in black marker-pen as they strolled to a 3-0 series win over 'the best prepared Lions ever to leave these shores'.

Robinson was left with no choice but to change and, for that reason, he has opted for a more mobile pack and chosen men like Perry Freshwater and Matt Stevens over White and Graham Rowntree.

It is a tacit and late admission that the modern front-rower can no longer just be a piano-mover - he must at least give a passable rendition of Chopsticks after a few beers.

And the inclusion of Pat Sanderson is also extremely important. Not only did it give credence to his assertion that anyone who performs well on an A-team tour would get his chance in the Test side, but it supports the premise that good club form will eventually be rewarded.

Nevertheless, it should not be ignored that it was only a month ago that the Worcester captain was left out of the Elite Player Squad by Robinson. There's another example of the muddled thinking that set back Mathew Tait's development by half a season.

Why put a man of Sanderson's stature through the ignominy of EPS deselection, when he was omitted from a squad of 60, only to name him as one of the best 30 so soon afterwards?

It only leads to the impression that where the blindingly obvious has escaped him, Robinson adopted a policy of blindfolded pin-sticking.