Lancaster banks on home support, defence

England, with Sam Burgess (in white) in action against Ireland, extended their streak of home wins to seven with a 21-13 triumph.
England, with Sam Burgess (in white) in action against Ireland, extended their streak of home wins to seven with a 21-13 triumph. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Stuart Lancaster says his England team are "100 per cent ready" for the Rugby World Cup, and will pose a genuine title threat on home soil if they can tighten up their defence.

With the tournament kicking off on Sept 18, the England coach believes no visiting nation will find it easy to win at Twickenham.

Saturday's 21-13 victory over Ireland has extended England's unbeaten home run to seven matches, with all their major pool games being staged at the 82,000-seater stadium.

Lancaster suspects the tournament will be the most open in history and hopes the Twickenham factor will provide an edge.

"With the Twickenham crowd behind us, I think we'll be a difficult side to beat," insisted Lancaster, happy with the way his team bounced back from last month's disappointing 20-25 loss against France in Paris. "We're 100 per cent ready… we've been waiting for this for four years.

"We've got a very good win ratio at home and confidence is built from consistently playing well.

"Day in, day out, I can see us defending and attacking well against each other in training.

"It's just about putting all those bits and pieces together for the full 80 minutes for seven games."

The England management are already focusing on their first opponents Fiji.

"We don't want to get too carried away because we know the threat that's coming round the corner," said Lancaster.

"With the build-up that's going to ensue over the next two weeks, we've got to make sure we don't play the game too early."

He has also been absorbing the lessons of previous World Cups, where preventing tries has often been as crucial as scoring them.

"The teams that win World Cups are the teams with the best defences," he confirmed.

"You can't be conceding 20-30 points and expect to be winning World Cups.

"To win it, you've also got to win seven big games on the bounce.

"For us, because of the pool we're in, it's effectively the quarter-final stage from game one. France got to the final in 2011 by losing two pool games, so it is achievable, but I think everyone wants consistency." THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'Lancaster banks on home support, defence'. Print Edition | Subscribe