AND World Cup winner Will Greenwood believes current coach Stuart Lancaster can survive a 3-0 Test whitewash in South Africa, provided results improve in the autumn internationals.
Greenwood has thus far been impressed with Lancaster’s long-term project and believes England’s 22-17 Durban defeat to South Africa provides cause for optimism ahead of Saturday’s second Test in Johannesburg, even if their greatest challenge lays ahead.
The former centre believes Lancaster’s acid test to be in mid-November, when England consecutively face Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.
“I think the challenge will come, because you can’t lose three Tests in November,” Greenwood told City A.M. “That’s the problem. You’ve got New Zealand, Australia and South Africa coming. I think going to South Africa and losing a Test series 3-0 – it ain’t the end of the world. There’s everything to gain, nothing to lose.
“Most don’t expect them to win. [Just] go in there, be competitive, learn with this coach, this bunch of players, against a Tri-Nations team.
“I’ve been really impressed and am enthused about what I’m seeing. The side picked, I thought, was excellent. I thought the execution at times was poor from those on the field, [but] it was a good side and I’m genuinely excited about seeing the next Test. He’s not afraid to take a chance.”
Lancaster’s selection for Saturday will have to take into consideration the possible problems posed by altitude, but though Greenwood acknowledges the potential difficulties involved, he believes the issue is no longer such a threat.
“If you’re not used to it you feel as though you’re playing with a punctured lung,” he added. “But if you train well and the sport science has been done properly, it’s become less and less of an issue.”
Greenwood is also confident about the emergence of further talent and, with the Premiership Sevens nearing, believes Lancaster can expect more to imminently appear.
“A couple of years ago, Saracens won the JP Morgan at the start of the season with [Owen] Farrell,” he said. “Jonathan Joseph for London Irish last year, Luke Moore for Harlequins – it’s a great chance to have a good look and expose younger players to a high-level competition.”
The J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby 7s Series begins on 13 July at Harlequins, with rounds at Sale Sharks and Gloucester Rugby, and the final at Bath Rugby. Visit: www.jpmorgan7s.com to find out more.