ENGLAND captain Chris Robshaw has challenged his side to mark the continuation of their progress under head coach Stuart Lancaster by winning next year’s Six Nations.
The Red Rose finished 2013 with a spirited 30-22 defeat to New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday.
Despite the result, England’s performance against the all-conquering world No1 side was arguably their best of the autumn international series, which has included wins over Argentina and Australia.
And Robshaw believes the next step for England is to triumph in the Six Nations, having finished runners-up to Wales two years in a row.
“We are improving game by game, week by week and tournament by tournament and we must make sure we continue that,” he said.
“We’ve now finished second in the Six Nations for the last two years and the only way for us to improve is to win it. That’s the aim.
“We had a pretty good campaign last season but unfortunately fell short at the final hurdle. Good teams don’t fall short, they take their opportunities. The All Blacks didn’t lose a game in the Rugby Championship.
“They are the benchmark, but we want to be better.”
England are set to play three Tests in New Zealand next summer as part of the Steinlager Series, before the All Blacks return to Twickenham on 8 November.
And Robshaw believes the opportunity for England’s players to continually line up against the world’s best is the perfect way to prepare for an assault on the World Cup in 2015.
“We have a challenging series down there in the summer, but these are the guys you want to test yourselves against,” said the Harlequins flanker.
“You want to be playing the best sides regularly. That’s the only way to improve and it’s when you find out what you’re made of and what you’re about. We’re pretty close to where we want to be, but we’re not quite there.”