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Lancaster demands silverware

Stuart Lancaster admits it is time for England to turn improvement into success by winning the 2014 RBS 6 Nations.

England have claimed some notable scalps in Lancaster's 20-match reign, New Zealand, Australia and France among them, but have yet to secure any silverware.

However, Lancaster knows relieving Wales of the Championship title will be challenging given three of England's matches are away, including the opening games against France and Scotland.

"We've drawn with South Africa, beaten Australia and beaten New Zealand, so our confidence and self-belief are growing," Lancaster said.

"As with all players and teams, you want to win things. You want to win trophies and series. That's the ambition for everyone.

"We've had some good results since losing to Wales last year, but we all want to win things - be it series victories or the Six Nations.

"We have an eye on the World Cup of course, but we would never treat a Six Nations game, especially one against France in Paris, as any sort of warm-up.

"It starts and ends against France - you don't start thinking about what you'll do against Italy in the fifth game or Wales in the fourth game.

"But the challenge facing us is tough because we have three games away, the first two against France and Scotland away."

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre views either England or Wales as the likely winners of the title with Wales starting as marginal favourites ahead of England according to bookmakers.

Lancaster, however, stresses there are too many hurdles to negotiate to consider his team's side in the pecking order.

"I never think in that way. I focus all my energy on how we'll beat France," Lancaster said.

"I don't rank us alongside Wales or Scotland, I'm respectful of every team that we face.

"First up we have France away and we could see during the autumn that they are an improving team.

"They will have had a week's camp, will be rested, prepared and highly motivated to play England in France.

"Then you have Scotland who will be highly motivated to play England in Edinburgh.

"Three of Ireland's provinces have reached the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup and Joe Schmidt will have got them playing well together. It's hard to see who are the favourites."

Lancaster's thinking in selection is coloured by the looming 2015 World Cup and with 20 matches remaining until the tournament begins, he knows the time for experimentation is drawing to a close.

"We've had 20 games since the start of the Six Nations two years ago when I started and there are 20 games to go until the 2015 World Cup," he said.

"So although it feels closer than it actually is, we're still only halfway through the process.

"At the moment I'm okay for the timeline for the World Cup but you don't want to put too many inexperienced players in at the same time."


From Belfast Telegraph