Jason Robinson interview: 'England remind me of World Cup-winning class of 2003'

 
Ross McLean
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England can win their 14th successive match with victory against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday (Source: Getty)

World Cup winner Jason Robinson is convinced that Eddie Jones’s victory-craving England are showcasing similar hallmarks to the record-setting trailblazers of his own era who went on to conquer the globe.

Victory against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday would not only ensure England navigate 2016 with an unblemished record but also equal the milestone of 14 successive wins set by Sir Clive Woodward’s vintage in 2003.

A second successive Grand Slam in next year’s Six Nations would see further records tumble and England surpass New Zealand’s milestone for a top-tier nation of 18 consecutive Test triumphs.

And while he insists there are plenty of remaining hurdles to negotiate, Robinson, who scored England’s try in the 2003 World Cup final, believes England are on course to emulate Woodward’s omnipotent side.

“A few years before we won the World Cup we were on the same road as the current England team are now,” Robinson told City A.M. “We went on a good run and beat some of the best teams in the world.

“England are on course to put themselves in a position, if they can keep making the improvements that they are, to win the next World Cup. There is no doubt about it.

A lot of people blow smoke

“They are learning to win in all different situations, whether that is through injury or losing a man inside the first five minutes [like against Argentina]. These different experiences will contribute to them getting stronger as a unit.

“It’s also up to the guys to stay hungry. They need to keep working at it and keep making positive differences to their game.

“Every week people talk you up, but inside you need to find something that you’re not quite doing right and need to get better at.

“In this industry a lot of people blow a lot of smoke, and for you it’s about not focusing on that, rather focusing on delivering and getting better.

“That’s why England are making the strides they are because they are more committed now to being the best they can be.”

A war of words is simmering between Jones and Wallabies counterpart Michael Cheika, ignited by the England head coach in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s victory over Argentina when he questioned Australia’s scrummaging technique.

Tensions between the former Randwick team-mates began to smoulder during England’s historic whitewash of Australia in the summer – the Red Rose’s maiden series win Down Under.

Robinson is backing the hosts to overcome their foes again, yet remains wary of an Australia backlash with the pain from their pent up humiliation set to be unleashed.

“Australia will be hurting still from that series and they will have targeted this game. Yes, they would have wanted to go undefeated during the autumn but this is the one for me,” added Robinson, who was speaking on behalf of Land Rover at the annual HITZ awards.

“As an ex-player, I would be licking my lips and couldn’t wait for it to come around because you want to prove yourself and prove yourself against the best players.

“Whenever you get beaten by a team, you can’t wait to play them again. When you get beaten three times in a row, that doesn’t go away quickly and it will be the motivation they need.

“England are going to be tested more by Australia than any other team they have faced this autumn but I’m convinced they have the firepower, mentality and strength in depth to beat them. They are now capable of delivering when it counts.”

Robinson is adamant that England’s fortunes would have been drastically different had they contested last year’s World Cup on home soil with the squad which has since flourished under Jones.

He also insists that a fixation within the England camp on records and winning sequences would be unhealthy, although acknowledges that failure to beat Australia at the weekend would be a bitter blow.

“If only we could take this team and the way they’ve changed physically and mentally back 12 months, we’d be really confident of being able to win the World Cup,” said the 42-year-old.

“It just shows the transformation in a very short space of time, both individually and collectively. The team has grown.

“What England are doing now is delivering, even though they might not be on top form, they are still delivering and getting their wins.

“If England don’t win on Saturday then the gloss will be taken off what they have achieved up until now, and not just the autumn.

“If they can win this Saturday it will be the icing on a very, very nice cake that has been baked over the year.”

Jason Robinson is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover is a key partner of HITZ, the sport for change programme that uses rugby to help young people overcome life’s challenges. Follow @LandRover_UK #WeDealInReal

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