Lancaster: England’s slump is not terminal

Ross McLean
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Stuart Lancaster’s England have lost their last five matches
ENGLAND head coach Stuart Lancaster has dismissed suggestions his side’s slump in form represents a crisis despite mounting pressure ahead of their crunch showdown with Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday.

Lancaster has added five players to the 23-man squad on duty against South Africa at the weekend with centres Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees, scrum-half Richard Wrigglesworth and flankers Calum Clark and James Haskell drafted into the training group.

Injuries continue to blight the Red Rose with centre Kyle Eastmond suffering with concussion and only likely to train on Friday should he pass tests, although second row Courtney Lawes is expected to recover from a shoulder problem to take his place against the big-hitting Pacific islanders.

Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni continues to struggle with a thigh injury and will miss the clash, and while five straight defeats is England’s worst run of form since 2006, Lancaster is refusing to accept the situation is terminal.

“I don’t think that’s true at all [England are in crisis]. If you say that, you’re talking about a team that has no belief in what they’re doing, has no sense of direction,” he said.

“You’re talking about a group of players who are not aligned with what you’re trying to do, not agreeing with where you’re going and have poor discipline on and off the field. That’s a team in crisis. For me, I don’t see any of those traits in this England team.”

Samoa team manager Sami Leoti, meanwhile, has ruled out strike action from his players amid fears the tourists were to boycott Saturday’s match over concerns regarding the administration of their national governing body.

Leoti said: “The game is proceeding as agreed upon. There is no threat and the boycott has been cancelled, it has all been sorted out now.”

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