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Lancaster believes England ready for World Cup

2015-09-06 10:46
England’s George Ford tackles Ireland’s Tommy Bowe (AP)

Twickenham - Stuart Lancaster quickly switched his sights to the forthcoming World Cup and the prospect of facing Fiji after his side blew hot and cold in a 21-13 warm-up victory over Ireland.

The head coach also took aim at Rob Andrew, the former fly-half and current RFU professional rugby director, for daring to suggest the current side will not peak for at least another two or three years.

Lancaster knows his side still have their doubters, and admits they must be more clinical when in control and dominating, unlike at Twickenham when they overran Ireland in the first-half before struggling to finish them off.

But he believes his side are well positioned to enter a home World Cup and the opening pool game with Fiji on September 18 following the win over the Irish.

"Our focus must now be entirely on Fiji and that first crucial game," he said.

"I am going to the Twickenham Stoop tomorrow to watch Fiji and Canada. The warm-ups are over and it's about preparing and building towards starting out on what we aim to be a successful World Cup campaign.

"We will go into the tournament on the back of a good win over a strong Irish side and with a group of players fit and ready to give everything they have for their country.

"I'm delighted to get the win today because we really wanted to improve on our performance against France two weeks ago. I thought from one to 23 we did that.

"We were playing a quality team in Ireland and to get the win was a great building block for us. Now all the focus for us goes onto Fiji obviously.

"If you go into a game with a mindset not to lose then ultimately you probably won't win.

"You have to get your performance right and we looked at the areas we needed to improve against France. Set-piece wise, fair play, the forwards did well and discipline was an awful lot better.

"It was disappointing to have two tries disallowed but overall we closed the game out well. When you play against a side as good as Ireland you know they'll have their moments. But we restricted their opportunities and to score two tries in the first half and have one disallowed, we'll take that against a side as good as Ireland."

Lancaster still, however, has a few selection headaches with left-wing Jonny May throwing his hat into the ring for a start against Fiji with a fine try scoring performance and Tom Youngs certainly boosting his chances of filling the problem hooker role.

Billy Vunipola may still get the nod for the No8 spot but Gloucester's Ben Morgan impressing with a strong, skilful display at Twickenham.

As for the Irish, they have a few problems themselves with scrum-half Conor Murray's concussion confusing matters with him needing to go through the normal protocol to prove his fitness heading into the tournament.

Wing Simon Zebo endured a miserable time and was less than convincing in defence for both of England's tries, but head coach Joe Schmidt insisted: "We never point the finger of blame at anyone. We take any defeat together and make sure we put things right next time.

"There is not much panic from us. There is always anxiety about whether you are up to speed when the big teams come around but over the last two years we have done enough to show we can hang in there and get results."

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