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Graham Rowntree warns England to cut out errors as Rugby World Cup approaches

Published 25/08/2015

Graham Rowntree says England cannot afford a repeat of their performance in Paris
Graham Rowntree says England cannot afford a repeat of their performance in Paris

Graham Rowntree admits the forward debacle that underpinned England's defeat in Paris must not happen again.

The pack conducted an angry review of their indiscipline and dire performance at the set-piece and breakdown as part of the squad's inquest into an abject 25-20 loss to France on Saturday night.

One of England's worst displays under head coach Stuart Lancaster was delivered just four weeks before the hosts open the World Cup against Fiji on September 18, and the visit of Ireland to Twickenham in 11 days has become a must-win encounter.

The pack has been a historical source of Red Rose strength and has excelled for much of Lancaster's reign. Rowntree was alarmed to see them beaten up by France for the second week in succession.

"We had a very stern review. We have to give ourselves a chance in a game like that, especially away from home," forwards coach Rowntree said.

"A lot of the errors were of our own making, such as the penalties we gave away at the breakdown. You can't be doing those things in the modern game. We certainly can't do that again.

"We've been very honest with the players and the players have been honest with each other. We can't let the opposition amass cheap points.

"The lads are angry, they don't need us to bash them over the head. More than anything they're angry with themselves. They let themselves down.

"But that's why we play these games. You get that out of your system and can't have it again. We corrected it in the second half and got some turnovers."

While offering a damning appraisal of England's performance in Paris, Rowntree is mindful that the second of two games against France was a warm-up match and not the World Cup itself.

"As a forwards coach you want to play teams like France, especially with selection on the horizon," Rowntree said.

"We have tough games coming up, so we want those challenges from a tough French forward pack and we got that.

"I'm not satisfied with what we've done over the last couple of games and it's my job to address those technical issues without getting hysterical about the whole thing. It's about understanding they're two warm-up games."

An area of concern is the malfunctioning line-out, with the throwing of senior hooker Tom Youngs under scrutiny.

Rowntree confirmed he has been in contact with Dylan Hartley, who was removed from the training squad after being banned for head-butting, to check if he is "fit and available if needed".

Hartley, first choice in the position, will see his suspension expire after the opener against Fiji.

England announce their World Cup squad on Thursday and have decisions to make in the second and back rows after their selection thinking was muddled by the events in Paris.

Dave Attwood was imposing as a second-half replacement and may have done enough to edge George Kruis, while Nick Easter's impressive cameo is putting pressure on Ben Morgan at number eight.

"There are a few difficult decisions to be made, that's why we're leaving it to the last minute to decide who we pick," Rowntree said.

"The guys deserve every opportunity to show us what they can do in training and in games."

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