Lancaster challenges England to match southern hemisphere giants


LONDON (Reuters) - Head Coach Stuart Lancaster has challenged England to emulate the 2003 World Cup-winning team in laying down a marker ahead of next year's tournament by beating Southern hemisphere giants New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

England face the three nations and Samoa in November knowing the results could have a huge bearing on the tournament.

In the build up to the 2003 tournament in Australia, England registered famous victories, home and away, against each of the three nations to elevate themselves to the summit of world rugby.

Since that run of victories, and the subsequent World Cup triumph, results have been rather less impressive.

England have made great progress in Lancaster's three-year reign but his record against the three giants of world rugby, who have won six of the seven World Cups since the inaugural tournament in 1987, leaves plenty to be desired.

In 11 tests, Lancaster has suffered eight defeats with two victories and one draw and the 45-year-old has placed the utmost importance on reasserting a degree of supremacy.

"Playing at Twickenham is important for us and getting on top of the southern hemisphere is imperative," Lancaster was quoted as saying in Sunday's The Observer.

"In my time in charge we have never gone into matches against them thinking we would be happy to lose but we certainly feel that after nearly three years together our target should be to win all the matches with just 12 months to go before the World Cup."

On their tour of New Zealand in June, England suffered a 3-0 series whitewash but left with their reputation enhanced having run the world champions desperately close in the first two test matches.

England's recent resurgence has been built upon a squad with genuine strength in depth and Lancaster hopes the talent at his disposal can herald an extended period of success.

"You want to represent your country in a World Cup but for me the biggest motivation is to have long-term success and we have a pipeline of talent coming through which will allow us to build the group," he said.

"I cannot think of any minute of any day when I am not thinking about the job, how I can improve and do better for the team."

On Sunday Lancaster added nine players to his training squad ahead of the opening test against New Zealand on Nov. 8.

Exeter Chiefs trio Dave Ewers, Henry Slade and Thomas Waldrom come in as injury cover for James Haskell, Luther Burrell and Billy Vunipola while Ben Foden, Matt Kvesic, Anthony Watson and Richard Wigglesworth will also now train with the squad.

Henry Thomas and Alex Waller have been added as cover for David Wilson and Joe Marler, who have calf and thigh problems although both are expected to be fit by next weekend, a statement said.

(Reporting By Tom Hayward; Editing by Rex Gowar)

Source: Reuters

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