Rowntree backing for under-fire Wells

GRAHAM ROWNTREE rallied round under-fire forwards coach John Wells last night as England&rsquo;s management team set out to quash rumours of a split in the camp.<br /><br />Wells&rsquo; position has been thrown into uncertainty amid speculation that a clash in philosophies with attacks coach Brian Smith is hindering England&rsquo;s progression.<br /><br />Poor performances from the pack against Australia and Argentina have led to question marks over Wells&rsquo; position, while it has also been reported from an &lsquo;insider&rsquo; that Wells&rsquo; influence is beginning to wane.<br /><br />But Lions scrum coach Rowntree has hit back at such suggestions, describing Wells as one of the &ldquo;best practitioners&rdquo; in the game while insisting the England management are treading a &ldquo;common path&rdquo;.<br /><br />&ldquo;I am sick of hearing about Wellsy and about this difference of opinion he is supposed to have on his view of the game,&rdquo; the former England prop said. &ldquo;He is one of the best practitioners around in forward play and he wants us to win. He will sit in with whoever is coaching.<br /><br />&ldquo;We will take the criticism but some of the comments about that coach in particular are uncalled for.&rdquo;<br /><br />Team manager Martin Johnson has responded to the uninspiring 16-9 victory over the Pumas on Saturday by recalling Simon Shaw and Mathew Tait for the squad to play New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.<br /><br />Shaw, the 36-year-old Wasps lock, is a welcome addition to the squad having missed the first two autumn internationals with a foot injury.<br /><br />He replaces Northampton&rsquo;s Courtney Lawes, who made his Test debut off the bench against Australia, but did not feature in the victory over Argentina.<br /><br />Sale back Tait has been surplus to requirements in recent weeks but his pace and versatility in the back division has given him the nod ahead of specialist fly-half Andy Goode.