Lancaster remains confident England are on track

Stuart Lancaster is being considered for the British and Iris Lions role

England head coach Stuart Lancaster says that his team are hurting after losses to world champions New Zealand and South Africa at Twickenham and suffering a run of five consecutive losses.

2015 Rugby World Cup hosts England have just ten matches left between now and the Rugby World Cup which leaves Lancaster little time to make his team serious contenders to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy.

The loss to South Africa coupled with other results on the weekend mean that England have dropped from third place in the IRB rankings to fifth place and they have now suffered their run of results in eight years.

England’s problems are in the backs as the forwards generate no shortage of possession but the backs have been unable to turn that possession into points.

Lancaster says that the England team will have to accept the scrutiny they are currently under as it will only intensify between now and the World Cup.

“We’re going to have pressure on us when the World Cup comes around, irrespective of the results leading up to it,” said Lancaster.

“That’s what comes with the expectation of being the home nation, so we better get used to it. And so had I.”

“It hurts when you lose as England — and it should do.”

“It hurts me personally because I’m responsible for the team and it hurts the players because the players care about the team.

“My sense is that we’re disappointed with ourselves, but we have to continue to believe in what we’re doing.”

Four of England’s recent defeats have come against the All Blacks, with South Africa second only to New Zealand in the world rankings.

A defiant Lancaster took some comfort from the fact England had not been “smashed” in any of those five matches.

“It’s easy to say you’ve not won any of your last five games, but the opposition has been pretty good and three of the defeats were in New Zealand,” Lancaster said.

“We’ve not been smashed by any of them. I’ve seen South Africa get beaten by 30 points in the summer, I’ve seen South Africa beat Australia by 30 points, I’ve seen New Zealand put 50 points on Australia.

“Now we’ve come up short and we’re not happy about that, but we’ve not been smashed.”

Lancaster is set to make changes for this Saturday’s match against Samoa, although the fact the tough-tackling Pacific Islanders are not of the same standard as New Zealand or South Africa is likely to make comparisons with England’s first two matches difficult ahead of their November finale against World Cup pool rivals Australia.

England have rarely enjoyed a settled and reliable midfield since the retirement of 2003 World Cup-winner Will Greenwood and their difficulties in that area intensified when centre Kyle Eastmond was barred from training this week with concussion.

Billy Twelvetrees, who could fill a vacancy caused by Eastmond’s absence, has an ankle problem and Lancaster could yet decide to field Farrell at inside centre against Samoa, with back-up No 10 George Ford given the chance to show what he can do as a starting fly-half.

“It does affect your selection and it will complicate it. Farrell is an option at 12, as well as Twelvetrees. We’ll see how training goes on Tuesday,” Lancaster said.

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