Sir Clive Woodward has offered his advice to beleaguered England head coach Stuart Lancaster: keep working your socks off.
The mastermind behind England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup triumph said that Lancaster, whose England side has lost five games in a row, must demonstrate to his players that he’s up for the fight.
England face Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday evening, looking to arrest a slump that has seen doubts grow over their ability to win the World Cup on home soil next year.
A number of pundits have questioned Lancaster’s suitability to the job in recent weeks, but Woodward believes victory against Samoa would see the doubts dissipate.
Speaking at the World Rugby ConFex in London yesterday, he said:
You’ve just got to throw the kitchen sink at it, this would be my advice for Stuart Lancaster today.He’s getting a load of criticism, but this will all just go away if he just keeps solid, working his socks off. The players will be fine.One win and it all goes away, he’s just got to stay strong. If you do that, you’ll be fine.
This season’s QBE Autumn internationals have so far brought two defeats to New Zealand and South Africa, sparking Lancaster into ringing the changes for the fixture against Samoa.
Lancaster has made five personnel changes to his side, and has moved Owen Farrell from fly-half to inside centre.
George Ford makes his first start at fly-half, while Ben Youngs, Ben Morgan, James Haskell and Rob Webber follow the 21-year-old into the team.
Yesterday Lancaster dismissed talk of a crisis and insisted his team knew what had to be done in order to be done in order to be ready for the World Cup.
England's head coach said:
We can’t sit and feel sorry for ourselves.I accept the clock is ticking but I don’t buy that this will define how the World Cup will go.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.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.