Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Lancaster satisfied with mission

Stuart Lancaster is happy with England's performances in South America

England head coach Stuart Lancaster closed the file on a successful tour of South America and stamped it: Mission Accomplished.

Lancaster described the 2-0 Test series victory over Argentina as a "critical" staging post in England's development towards the 2015 Rugby World Cup on home soil.

Not only did Lancaster's young England side deliver the results but he has also developed the strength in depth he was after, with Matt Kvesic, Christian Wade, Marland Yarde and Kyle Eastmond all proving they are ready for Test rugby. Lancaster said: "It's a pleasing step forward. This tour was always going to be critical in our development towards 2015 because it gave the opportunity to bring other players through."

He added: "It gives me confidence and also reassurance that the direction we are going in is the right one. I was always confident that we had quality players coming through the pipeline. They have played in big games in the Premiership and in Europe and now they are making the step from club to country.

"I want to create an England team where everyone feels comfortable in coming into and playing, whether it is your first cap or your 31st cap. It was really pleasing to see people come into the team, slot in straight away and look like they had been part of the team for a long time.

"One of our goals was to win all four games on tour, including the Barbarians game. Objective one achieved. Objective two was to develop other options and look at increasing our selection decisions, which has also been achieved."

This time next year, Lancaster wants England, currently fourth, to go on their three-Test tour of New Zealand ranked as one of the top two nations in the world. His next task is to select the senior and Saxons elite squads for the forthcoming season, a task that is considerably tougher now than it was in January.

Some of those who shone in Argentina will most likely find themselves in the Saxons. Eastmond, for example, is still listed behind Brad Barritt and Billy Twelvetrees.

Lancaster continued: "I sell it to them as a 66-man squad. I don't think there's been a situation yet where a player who has been playing well enough for the Saxons has not had the opportunity to be promoted."

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