Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Easter likes World Cup group

Nick Easter

Nick Easter is satisfied England's pool at the World Cup will leave the team sufficiently battle hardened for the knockout stages.

The Six Nations champions open the tournament against Argentina on September 10 and also face Georgia, Romania and Scotland.

"Absolutely you want a challenging pool. You don't want it too tough obviously because you could end up giving everything just to get out of it," said Easter. "You definitely want some tough games or matches where not everything goes according to plan so you have to work out different situations."

He added: "In quarter and semi-finals things don't go according to plan and the opposition is as desperate as you to win it.

"If you haven't had that match practice or played under that pressure or intensity in previous matches, you can get caught on the hop."

In 2007, Australia and New Zealand paid the price for their romp through the group stages by falling apart during pressure-cooker quarter-finals, with the Wallabies losing to England.

Easter believes the southern hemisphere giants could encounter completely the opposite type of problem heading into the knockout stages thanks to the staging of the Tri-Nations.

New Zealand, Australia and South Africa will play each other in the annual tournament beginning on July 23. Even in its reduced format, adjusted to account for the World Cup, they will stay play four matches that Easter claims could leave them "over-cooked".

"This time the northern hemisphere teams might have a little bit of an advantage over the southern hemisphere teams in terms of the scheduling because we've had a break," he added.

"We don't have any rugby match now until the first warm-up game in August, so we have a good window to train hard and get prepared properly."