Woodward: England need better backs to win RWC

England’s Rugby World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward says that Stuart Lancaster’s forward are good enough to win another world cup but they will need better backs.

England finished their Autumn International series with two wins and one loss. Although they didn’t go through the series unbeaten they can hold their heads up high as they have shown that they are moving in the right direction.

England had a dissappointing Autumn International series last year with losses to Australia and South Africa but they finished the year with a 38-21 victory over the All Blacks.

In their third and final Test this year England had been hit by injuries in the backs and the pack so they fielded a team that was a little under full strength.

England had a disastrous start against the All Blacks and were 14 points down after just 17 minutes until their pack performed heroically and after a try by lock Joe Launchbury, fly-half Owen Farrell kicked England into an improbable 22-20 lead.

The All Blacks however managed to use what little ball they had to score a match winning try and the result was sealed with a penalty from Aaron Cruden.

Former England boss Woodward, who was himself a talented Test centre is just one of several pundits who say that England need more talent behind the scrum to truly challenge the world’s best.

“The lesson of the autumn is that England have a magic bunch of forwards tough enough to win a World Cup,” Woodward wrote in Monday’s Daily Mail, having seen Lancaster’s side defeat Australia and Argentina in their other two November Tests at Twickenham.

“But – and it is a big but – there is simply no element of genuine fear of our back division.

“We have learned little other than we have a pragmatic back-line who fail to exploit the brilliant work of the pack and are a long way off the standard required if England really do have aspirations to lift the World Cup again.”

Admittedly, Lancaster, the current England coach, was without injured first-choice centres Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt, both of whom scored tries in England’s 38-21 win over the All Blacks at Twickenham last year.

He also was deprived of crocked wings Yarde and Wade who Lancaster said he would have played had they not been injured.

“If you took four players out of the All Blacks team and had new combinations working together it would be challenging for them too,” insisted Lancaster.

England have rarely been renowned for the quality of their back-line but the best England sides of recent times have contained at least one assured playmaker and finisher, be it Jeremy Guscott and Rory Underwood in the 1990s or Will Greenwood and Jason Robinson in the World Cup-winning team.

While the star of the 2003 Rugby World Cup winning back line was Jonny Wilkinson England have struggled more over the last decade to replace ball-playing centre Greenwood their star player.

Tuilagi is still young and has no shortage of potential while there are hopes that Billy Twelvetrees who played against the All Blacks could also step up although the Gloucester midfielder has yet to prove he can deliver on the world stage.

England need a played in the form of All Black centre Ma’a Nonu who’s coach Steve Hansen underplayed his contribution to Savea’s decisive second score that ensured New Zealand made it 13 wins out of 13 this year.

“When you play like we do every week, those things are happening every week,” Hansen said.

“So they are not that ‘wow’ but what is important about that offload is that he (Nonu) wasn’t trying to do something under pressure he hadn’t done before.

“It wasn’t a new thing. It was just natural – ‘it’s on, so I’ll pass it’ and that’s what he did.”

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