Under-fire England head coach Stuart Lancaster is not expecting his players to twist the knife when rugby bosses kickstart their review into their dismal World Cup showing today.
A 60-3 thrashing of minnows Uruguay on Saturday evening did little to lighten the mood surrounding a harrowing World Cup exit which saw England become the first host nation in the tournament’s history to suffer group-stage elimination.
The inquest into England’s demise will allow squad members the chance to evaluate the performance of Lancaster and his lieutenants Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt as the Rugby Football Union considers its long-term options.
“It will be interesting to see what the players do say and that’s why I think the review is important,” said Lancaster. “What they say to me individually is positive. I’ve got a good relationship with them and we’ve all worked hard on that.
“I want them to give their view and that’s why I encourage the review to take place because it is an important part of the process.”
Former Saxons coach Lancaster intends to bunker down in the Lake District and pay little attention to the remainder of the tournament, instead using the immediate future as period of calm introspection.
“I need to find out the details and plans for when I am needed to discuss things,” added Lancaster, who has a contract to coach England until 2020.
“I will be watching the games again and reviewing all the things we did in the lead up to the World Cup and during the World Cup and asking myself the question about performance and could we have done this better.”
Flanker Tom Wood, meanwhile, has urged Lancaster and his coaching staff to adopt a robust stance when the RFU begins its inquest and picks over the bones of England’s campaign.
“Absolutely, we’re behind Stuart,” he said. “Personally, and I think I can speak for most of the lads, I want Stuart and the coaches to come out fighting.
“They’ve done themselves proud in terms of the preparation and their work-rate. Stuart’s work-rate in particular is unbelievable. To a man, we’ve given our all.
“The coaches will have learned an awful not during this campaign and over the past three and a half years.
“At the top they are going to come under an awful lot of pressure to ring the chances, but I can’t speak highly enough of Stuart as a bloke and as a coach. I back him.”
Ex-New Zealand and Wales coach Graham Henry has also nailed his colours to the mast and declared himself in Lancaster’s corner, claiming it would be a mistake to dispense of his services.
He said: “He has got the ability, it’s a no-brainer to me.”