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Puma Tests were boost for England

England's successful summer tour of Argentina unquestionably played second fiddle to the British and Irish Lions' Test series-winning exploits in Australia.

But Gloucester star Ben Morgan believes the impact of England's triumphs in South America has been considerable.

Not only did England claim a first Test series win away from home against the Pumas for 32 years, the trip also saw young players like Marland Yarde, Christian Wade, Kyle Eastmond, Matt Kvesic and Billy Vunipola burst on to rugby's international stage.

They all gained their reward earlier this month when England head coach Stuart Lancaster promoted them to the elite player squad, underlining a growing strength in depth two years out from World Cup 2015.

"That sort of tour is just a great opportunity for new people to come in and prove what they can offer," said Morgan, during this week's England training camp at Loughborough University.

"And I think everyone did that. You could see it in the way we played.

"Everyone stepped up and really impressed, and that reward has been achieved by being named in the elite squad.

"I don't think the tour exceeded expectations, we were just very pleased with how well we executed our plays. We've got the ability to be able to play like that, but it doesn't always come off through inaccuracies and discipline and that sort of thing.

"But the way we managed to deliver how we wanted to play was exactly what we were looking to do.

"And by having players coming through and taking their opportunities it means the competition in the squad across the board is at a different level."

Number eight Morgan started both Tests - England won 32-3 in Salta and 51-26 in Buenos Aires a week later - and scored a try as Lancaster's men secured an emphatic whitewash.

They scored seven tries across both games, playing with a sense of panache that augers well for a gruelling 2013-14 campaign of autumn appointments with Australia, Argentina and New Zealand, the RBS 6 Nations Championship and three Tests against the All Blacks in New Zealand.

"By having such competition it really drives the best from players and makes it a better team," added Morgan, speaking on behalf of the O2 Touch initiative.

"If you are slack at any point, there are about three or four people ready to take your spot. It really is a case of being at your best for every performance because there are so many people itching to be in that shirt.

"Just by being in this England environment, where you've got such attention to detail in your forward play, your back play, your defence, it really does develop you as a player. You are always hungry to be around the environment.

"What I have experienced with England has been fantastic. Stuart has brought belief into our squad and made it a culture we want to be in and around.

"We are looking for lots of small details that we can develop. The whole England set-up back to the clubs is a really healthy relationship where everyone is on the same page and trying to achieve the same things.

"There is no separation, because when you go back to your club you are still trying to work to the same thing, and that makes a really big difference to how you can approach international rugby."


From Belfast Telegraph