Lancaster: England not in crisis

Published: Monday 17th November 2014 by The News Editor

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England head coach Stuart Lancaster denies a deteriorating autumn has reached crisis point as pressure mounts following a fifth successive defeat.

The third QBE International against Samoa on Saturday is a match England dare not lose after New Zealand and South Africa stormed Twickenham over the last two weekends.

Only 10 games remain until next year’s home World Cup and a sense of urgency has gripped the hosts as they seek to address their declining self-belief, brainless decision making and the collapse in form of half-backs Danny Care and Owen Farrell.

However, a defiant Lancaster refutes the suggestion England are in crisis.

“I don’t think that’s true at all. If you say that, you’re talking about a team that has no belief in what they’re doing, has no sense of direction,” Lancaster said at Monday’s press conference.

“You’re talking about a group of players who are not aligned with what you’re trying to do, not agreeing with where you’re going and have poor discipline on and off the field.

“That’s a team in crisis. For me at the moment, I don’t see any of those traits in this England team.”

England have added five players to the matchday 23 defeated 31-28 by South Africa, with centres Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees, scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth and flankers Calum Clark and James Haskel the men drafted in.

However, injuries continue to plague a squad that has already lost seven British and Irish Lions to the treatment room for the entire autumn.

Centre Kyle Eastmond has concussion and will not be able to train until Friday – if he passes the return to play protocols – and lock Courtney Lawes has a shoulder stinger injury, although he is expected to be fit to face Samoa.

Twelvetrees has an ankle complaint and it is hoped he will train on Tuesday, but wing Semesa Rokoduguni continues to be treated for a hip problem and will not play against the Islanders.

George Ford, who is expected to replace Owen Farrell at fly-half, declared after the Springboks defeat that the post-match review would be “nasty” and Lancaster voiced his frustration at the performance.

“The review will be reasonably constructive for the areas we did well, but also I’ll be highlighting the areas of disappointment, cantering around some of the unnecessary points we gifted the opposition,” Lancaster said.

“Having watched the game again, I didn’t think South Africa outplayed us. We gifted them too many points and sometimes field position on the back of easy penalties, which is poor discipline by us.

“That’s one of the key areas I’ll be addressing. In wet conditions we need more field position to exert pressure on them.

“The over-riding emotion is frustration because there was an opportunity to beat them and it was through our own errors that gave them a foothold in the game. A 10-point buffer in an international game is a big hill to climb.”

Published: Monday 17th November 2014 by The News Editor

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