Twickenham - Captain Dylan Hartley said England had suffered
a "big bump on the road" to next year's Rugby World Cup but insisted they
would bounce back from their mauling in the Six Nations.
England's next assignment is a tour of South Africa in June,
where they will look to pick up the pieces of their fifth-placed Six Nations
The Red Roses have fallen to third in the Test rankings
following Saturday's chastening 24-15 home defeat to Grand Slam-winners
Ireland, their third straight loss.
But Hartley insisted England had time to regain their best
form before Japan 2019, where New Zealand's All Blacks will be looking to lift
their third successive World Cup.
"We've found deficiencies in our game and at the
breakdown, we've got to learn to adapt earlier in games," Hartley said.
"Individual discipline has killed us. I'd rather this
happened to this team now than later on," the New Zealand-born hooker
Coach Eddie Jones left open the possibility of resting
England's British and Irish Lions players for the tour of South Africa, after
fatigue was blamed for their lacklustre form.
"We still have to look at how we look after the Lions
players," said Jones. "That's still a concern for us.
"We will do that and that was always in the plans, but
otherwise we will select how we always select."
England's World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward said
England were paying the price for having several senior players involved in
last year's Lions tour of New Zealand.
Several Ireland stars also had key roles in the combined
side's 1-1 drawn Test series but, significantly, they have faced far less
gruelling workloads since returning home.
"You can't overstate what happened on the Lions
tour," said Woodward, whose side won the 2003 World Cup final against an
Australia team coached by Jones, on BBC Radio 5 Live on Sunday.
"Every time the Lions toured, the way our players have
to play so many games for their clubs, it meant you would have a bad year
(afterwards)," he added.
However, Jones said facing a "rejuvenated" South
Africa is just what England need to restore their confidence.
"It's a good place, because we can get the team
together and work together, day-in, day-out," said Jones, a consultant to
the Springbok side that won the 2007 World Cup.
"It's going to be fantastic for us and they (South
Africa) are going to be a rejuvenated team," added the Australian, whose
overall record as England coach stands at 24 wins from 28 Tests.
The Springboks have been in a prolonged slump themselves,
but hopes are high that under new coach Rassie Erasmus one of the traditional
powerhouses of world rugby will return to winning ways.."