We'd win World Cup tomorrow - Marler
Prop Joe Marler admits high-flying England would back themselves to win the Rugby World Cup if it started tomorrow.
Stuart Lancaster's side are in superb form having beaten New Zealand impressively in December and made an excellent start to the RBS 6 Nations. Victories over Scotland at Twickenham and Ireland in Dublin have made the rugby world sit up and take notice, with some already looking towards the World Cup on English soil in 2015.
Talk of England lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in over two years' time is clearly premature but Marler and team-mate Owen Farrell admit the tournament is on their mind in the long term. Marler told Press Association Sport: "If it was to start tomorrow, we'd back ourselves to win it."
He continued: "It's a little bit of an English thing in most sports, getting ahead of ourselves somewhat. But we're on a journey. We're on a journey as a team and each time we pull on that shirt it's another step towards that ultimate goal of a home World Cup in front of your own fans.
"That's our main goal. But we'll be focusing on the process in between then and now because it's still two and a half years away, so we've got lots to do before then."
Stellar fly-half Farrell is similarly cautious but also well aware of the side's long-term ambitions.
"The World Cup is a long way away," he said. "There's obviously loads of rugby to be played before then but that's when everyone wants to peak and that's what we want to build towards. As long as we keep going in the right direction, we'll be in good stead."
Headlines have been dominated this week by British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland's controversial comments about selecting English players for this summer's tour of Australia.
The Kiwi had said in an interview that taking a lot of English players on the tour of Australia could lead to a media circus and bring unwanted pressure on the Lions. But Gatland maintains he will pick the side on merit and made that point to Lancaster during a pre-arranged visit to England's training camp this week.
Marler admits the comments amused rather than annoyed the squad. He added: "We had a bit of a giggle. I think he came out and said he was mis-quoted or something but for the boys, it's irrelevant. We're concentrating on the next game."