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Lancaster comes out guns blazing

2015-10-09 16:59
Stuart Lancaster

Manchester - Embattled England rugby coach Stuart Lancaster has come out fighting after taking heavy blows during the week and said he backs himself on his overall record while in charge of the humiliated World Cup hosts.

The 45-year-old - who replaced Martin Johnson after the debacle of the 2011 World Cup which was dominated by woeful headlines concerning the squad's off-the-pitch behaviour - added he didn't believe the England set-up required radical changes.

Both his and captain Chris Robshaw's roles have been cast into doubt since England suffered the ignominy of becoming the first host nation to exit the tournament at the pool stage after defeats at Twickenham to Wales and then Australia last Saturday.

England play their final game of the campaign against minnows Uruguay in Manchester on Saturday.

"I didn't realise there was a category of 'super coaches' but I take your point," said Lancaster, who has also failed to deliver the Six Nations title in the spell he has been in charge.

"I've had 45 games in charge now so that makes me the second most experienced England coach, I think. My win percentage hasn't been high enough because I didn't win all the games.

"I obviously back myself. We've beaten every international team along the way.

"But obviously you get judged on one thing.

"For 70 minutes against Wales we were in charge (England led by 10 points on three occasions) and we lost the game. Against Australia, there were times we were on top. Results define coaching decisions but there's other things I take confidence from."

Lancaster, who has been castigated for his selection policy both for the overall squad and the match days XV, said he thought what he had implemented concerning the structure should be retained.

"I would say no, but then I would say that, wouldn't I?" said Lancaster. "Because I built it. Things need to be done better, there's no doubt about it."

He also mounted a strong defence of Robshaw, who was a surprise choice by Lancaster as captain in 2012 as he only had one cap to his name, though as a player many have suggested he wasn't good enough to play for England.

"Forty-odd games he's played at seven for England and he's got man of the match, I think, in double figures," said Lancaster.

"At the weekend it wasn't a Robshaw failure that (David) Pocock turned the ball over, it was a team failure.

"Pocock turned the ball over five times, we did so three times. It's tough on him to hold one person accountable."

Lancaster, who has at least been credited with restoring the England team's image off the pitch which was in shreds when he took over, made light of the media blitz that has lampooned him and Robshaw in particular.

"It depends on which blizzard you read or get involved in with your snow goggles," said Lancaster.

"I didn't need to read it to know what was being said. Emotions were high and rightly so. Our objective was to win the World Cup and we didn't get out of the group stages."

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