England boss Stuart Lancaster: I back myself to coach at this level
Stuart Lancaster is convinced he has demonstrated his credentials as an international coach as he refuses to signal the end of his England stewardship.
The worst World Cup performance in Red Rose history will draw to a close against Uruguay at Manchester City Stadium on Saturday, with the future of Lancaster and his coaching assistants in grave doubt.
A review into England's failure to reach the knockout phase will begin next week and Lancaster - described by scrum-half Danny Care as a "fighter" and contracted until 2020 - may yet decide his reign must not end here.
"I've had 45 games in charge now, which makes me the second most experienced England coach," Lancaster said.
"The win percentage was never high enough for me, but I have learned a lot along the way and I back myself to coach at this level, no doubt about it.
"We've drawn with South Africa and we've beaten every other international team along the way, but you get judged on the one thing (the World Cup).
"Results define coaching success, but equally there are a lot of other things from which I take confidence in the way I prepared this team.
"But it's not just about me. There are other people who have got their opinions. And then there is what the review says and what the RFU say.
"I need to reflect in due course. I haven't had the time this week. I've been flat out preparing for the game That will come over the next…
"It's a tough job, there's no denying it. I'm very proud to do the job and put an awful lot of work into it over the past four years. But we'll see."
Lancaster has born the brunt of the anger directed at England's World Cup demise and has responded by withdrawing his coaching lieutenants from the media spotlight this week, placing himself in the cross hairs instead.
The 45-year-old Cumbrian, who admits his regret at not being able to recruit New Zealander Wayne Smith to his coaching team when he started in 2012, has taken comfort from the messages of goodwill received since the 33-13 loss to Australia that brought the tournament to a close after a mere 16 days.
"It's been nice the number of texts and emails of support I've had, running into the hundreds," he said.
"They say 'we are all equally disappointed, however, we can all see what you're doing and where the team are going, and the foundations are strong'."
Lancaster has received strong backing from Care, who will start at scrum-half against Uruguay on Saturday and has a long association with the head coach dating back to his development at Leeds.
"Stuart is a fighter, I know that. He has worked so hard all his life to get this job," Care said.
"You can't underestimate what he has done for this squad to build those foundations which we can't go back on now as a squad. We all bought into it four years ago.
"I don't think you'll see Stuart Lancaster walking away from anything. I think he will front up to it like he has been doing and crack on."