England

Wounded Wallabies worry Lancaster

Mon, 12 Nov 2012 08:46
Stuart-lancaster-at-fire-63 Chris-robshaw-england-630 Joe-launchbury-england-630
We recognise the strength of Australia
Quote-end

England coach Stuart Lancaster is expecting an Australia backlash when his side face the Wallabies at Twickenham this weekend.

Australia opened their European year-end campaign with a thumping 33-6 loss to France in Paris on Saturday, just hours after England began their November/December quartet of Twickenham Tests by routing Fiji 54-12.

But Australia - who arrived in Europe on the back of a highly creditable 18-18 draw with World Cup champions New Zealand - are set to have captain David Pocock, wing Digby Ioane and prop Ben Alexander fit to face England this coming Saturday (November 17).

"We recognise the strength of Australia," Lancaster said.

"They pushed the All Blacks to 18-18, they are a good side. We have to train at a higher intensity this week and keep putting the players under pressure so we are ready for what comes on Saturday.

"They will be very motivated coming here and we need to make sure we are ready," he said.

Slow-starters England did score seven tries against Fiji but also made a mess of several others, something unlikely to go unpunished by the stronger sides in Australia, South Africa (November 24) and New Zealand (December 1) who will be arriving at Twickenham in the coming weeks.

"You only had to look at the players in the changing room to know they will remain grounded," Lancaster said.

"They were quietly pleased with the performance but they were not shouting from the rooftops. We recognise the challenges ahead and we will have to up our game to win next week."

One area where England have struggled ever since the retirement of 2003 World Cup-winning centre Will Greenwood is in finding a midfield playmaker.

In the absence of a player who, in Lancaster's eyes, combines ball-playing skill with physical defensive solidity, the England coach has tried to get round the problem by the creative use of full-back Alex Goode.

The Saracens star came into the line as second receiver on Saturday, taking some of the load off fly-half Toby Flood, and had a hand in three of England's tries against Fiji.

"We are trying to evolve," Goode said. "Attack takes time for people to understand each others' roles, to get with the pattern but that is hopefully something we are really looking to push this year-end and test against the best.

"What I try and bring to the party is organisation, to try and make the back line work a bit better if I can," he added.

England teams have often been derived by rival nations as 'eight forwards plus a goal-kicker' but Goode believes the Red Rose backs are on the verge of making the rest of the rugby world sit up and take notice.

"There will be a big improvement for next week," he insisted. "If we play as well as we can do then we are good enough to blow teams out of the water."

AFP

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