Dawson: England will be focused
Matt Dawson insists England's World Cup preparations are unscathed by the recent flurry of disciplinary issues to have troubled the squad.
Centre Manu Tuilagi and hooker Dylan Hartley will miss the tournament after head coach Stuart Lancaster responded decisively to recent lapses in judgement and Danny Cipriani could join them on the absentee list.
The Sale fly-half was arrested on suspicion of drink driving on Monday and must wait until early August to discover the outcome of a police investigation, but for the time being he remains part of Lancaster's initial 50-man squad for the World Cup.
England begin their summer training camp on June 22 and Dawson, who lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003, believes recent events will not be a distraction.
"It's not the disaster everyone is making out. England have good strength in depth. I don't think this affects their preparations one iota," the Red Rose scrum-half said.
"I back Stuart Lancaster, he's set out his position on discipline early in his career and has stuck by it. He has done the right thing, he hasn't reacted unnecessarily.
"When he does need to react he does so in a professional manner and everyone around the squad knows where they stand.
"The ongoing situation with Danny won't distract Stuart, he has other things to worry about like picking his first XV, his final 31 and what style of rugby to play."
Dawson believes England will be best served by employing a mixture of the tactics used by Saracens and Bath in last Saturday's Aviva Premiership.
Bath's attacking philosophy was exposed by the suffocating pragmatism of Saracens, but Dawson believes that with a few tweaks and better decision making, the former's approach can be productive.
"There will be a bit of both Bath and Saracens in their style. Stuart has the flexibility to pick players according to who England are up against," Dawson said.
"He would have learned a heck of a lot from the Premiership final. He'll know how Bath can play in attack, but strategically he'll know how it can be countered.
"Australia and Wales will have looked at that game and seen how to play against the likes of Jonathan Joseph and George Ford.
"He'll want England to be good defensively and strategically, but then having the intent to play like Bath."
:: Matt Dawson, England rugby hero, is backing Ginsters' support of the Help for Heroes Hero Ride. Matt and Ginsters are calling the public to #backthe100 wounded riders collectively covering over 18,000 miles, by sponsoring them at www.helpforheroes.org.uk/backthe100