All eyes fall to Stuart Lancaster as England prepares to take to the international stage. With only nine games left to play, there’s no better way to start their run in to the world cup than to play the New Zealand, who of course will be looking to continue their winning streak after beating the young England team 3-0 during the summer tour.
Not only will the pressure be on to beat the current world champions but Lancaster will also have the results of the 2003 world cup team in mind. So here are some factors that Lancaster needs to think about:
The knock out attitude
With only nine games to go, the squad need to pull together now and create a winning formation. Gone are the days of development, now England really needs to see results. He needs to create a winning attitude for the squad and make it seen that every game is just as important as the next especially if they want that win on home soil next September. As far as a result goes, anything but a win will be deemed as a failure.
With a squad just as talented as the 2003 team they need to believe that they can be victorious. It’s quite simple; to win you must be able to outscore the other team. They must believe they can outscore anyone. Currently England are ranked as third in the IRB rankings, if they can outscore both New Zealand and South Africa during the Autumn Internationals they will not only have a good set of results behind them but they will have the belief that they can play any team and leave with a win. With the right mentality they can win the next four games.
Leading up to the World Cup campaign he needs to make sure that he gets the balance right between playing for your club and country. Overplaying players will mean that come May they will be overtired and this could all come crashing down. However England have depth and with every man and his dog coming out of the wood works to get the opportunity to play for England during the world cup he has plenty of options. Whilst options are good as a back up plan, Lancaster needs to start forming his winning starting fifteen. I believe it is close but we’re yet to see this squad due to a handful of the starting players out on injury.
Unlike Woodward, Lancaster has failed to win a Six Nations Grand Slam. The squad need to put their claim in for every title this international season. If they can go into the World Cup with a clean sheet and the home advantage, psychology it will send a big message to other teams. It will show that England isn’t a team to mess around with and that they’re back to the winning ways of 2003. Gone are the days of development, now Lancaster and his team need to show what they’ve been building to.
So now it’s over to you, I want to simply know; do you think England are capable of beating New Zealand this weekend? Are there any other factors Lancaster needs to consider whilst preparing his team? Let me know what you think by tweeting @InTheLoose to continue the debate.