Stuart Lancaster still frustrated by last year’s Six Nations failure

Despite defeating Ireland last year they lost out to their rivals through points difference

England head coach Stuart Lancaster talks about the Six Nations and not getting distracted by the upcoming World Cup. Video: Reuters

 

Stuart Lancaster admits England enter their 2015 RBS 6 Nations campaign nursing a deep sense of frustration at their failure to lift the crown for the past three years.

Since succeeding Martin Johnson in 2012, Lancaster has presided over three successive runners-up finishes, the most agonising of which unfolded last season when Ireland claimed the title on points difference alone.

Adding to the disappointment was the fact the Irish had been dispatched at Twickenham, and but for a late try engineered by France in Paris, Engalnd would have been celebrating the Grand Slam.

Now determined to issue a statement of intent with the World Cup they are hosting looming later in the year, Lancaster insists no team should expect to win the Six Nations.

“We are frustrated that we haven’t nailed down that Championship win — it does burn inside us,” Lancaster said.

“But you have to earn the right to stamp your authority. There are a lot of good teams out there who will have the same motivation as us.

“We’ve been close a couple of times, when maybe the bounce of the ball another way could have made a difference.

“We got to the stage where we want performances to lead to wins. Whatever it takes to win we’ll try to achieve it.”

The quest to end the four-year wait for Six Nations glory begins against Wales in Cardiff in a seismic opener that will either flood England with confidence or leave their title aspirations hanging by a thread after just one match.

Preparations for the Millennium Stadium have been undermined by an escalating injury crisis that has accounted for six members of the first choice starting fifteen - Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury, Ben Morgan, Tom Wood, Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi.

England’s midfield has been in a state of flux for years, but the uncertainty has only increased with Barritt, Tuilagi, Kyle Eastmond and Geoff Parling in the treatment room and out of contention against Wales.

“The game is on a Friday night, it’s in Wales who are a side stacked full of British and Irish Lions and they don’t seem to have suffered as many injuries as we have, so they have that stability,” Lancaster.

“We back ourselves to get the best out of the players we do have and we’ll see where we end up on selection.

“It is a big game but, as I say, there’s five big games coming round the corner in this Six Nations.

“The priority is to get your process right, get your detail right, get the players to understand the game plan and then the game should come to us on the day.

“We’ve got to make sure we prepare well and the rest should look after itself.”

Injury update

Prop David Wilson has been ruled out of Friday’s opener against Wales, but Dan Cole is available after recovering from his foot injury. Wilson will miss the Millennium Stadium showdown after conceding defeat in his battle with a neck problem — it is hoped he will be fit to face Italy a week later — and is set to be replaced at tighthead by Cole.

“David Wilson won’t be ready for Friday. He’s not recovered from the nerve impingement,” forwards coach Graham Rowntree said.

Cole has been out since December 27th after spraining a foot in Leicester’s 32-30 victory at Sale, but Rowntree insists he will be ready to face Wales in what will be his first England appearance since February.

“We’re hoping David will be in the mix for next week, but he’s not right at the moment unfortunately,” Rowntree said.

“Dan is available and has progressed well. He trained with us all last week. We increased his rehabilitation and he’s trained fully for the last four days.

“Dan is a class, proven operator. He’s not been out for six months and has not been sat twiddling his thumbs for the last six weeks. We’ve trained pretty fast and he’s slotted in nicely.”

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