Lancaster expects Wallabies backlash
November 12, 2012
England boss Stuart Lancaster has heaped praise on fullback Alex Goode following his performance against Fiji on Saturday © PA Photos
England coach Stuart Lancaster has warned his players to expect a fierce response from Australia this weekend following their hammering at the hands of France on Saturday night.
The Wallabies were on the wrong end of a 33-6 drubbing at the Stade de France but Lancaster refuses to be lured into a false sense of security ahead of their Cook Cup showdown knowing that the same side halted the all-conquering All Blacks' winning run last month.
The visitors are also set to be significantly bolstered by the return of flanker David Pocock, winger Digby Ioane, second rower Sitaleki Timani and prop Ben Alexander who are all expected to make a timely return from injury ahead of their latest tour outing.
"We recognise the challenge that is coming our way," said the England boss, whose side warmed up for the game with a 54-12 thumping of Fiji on Saturday afternoon.
"There is bound to be a reaction from the weekend's performance against France. They are a side with character and resilience. I am sure if they have got a few players coming back as well they will be a different animal on Saturday. We need to make sure we are ready."
He added:"Their previous game to that was an 18-all draw against the All Blacks and we all saw the quality that they [New Zealand] have at the weekend. They are more than capable of world class performances and they are not ranked second in the world for nothing. They are a very good side and we need to make sure we are 15-20% better than we were at the weekend, raise our intensity, physicality and the accuracy of our play."
The Wallabies have dropped to third in the latest IRB rankings following their latest reverse and are now less than two points ahead of fifth-placed England. Another defeat could jeopardise their place in the top four of the rankings that will provide a top seeding and a more favourable challenge at the 2015 Rugby World Cup pool allocation draw next month.
Reflecting on his own side's performance, Lancaster immediately raised the bar. "We wanted to put together a complete 80 minute performance and for the first 20 minutes we never really got going," he said. "Fiji played well and we struggled to get hold of the ball and when we did there were unforced errors that put us under pressure once again.
"Sometimes in rugby you don't execute as well as you should do and that is another area for us to work on. We created opportunities but four or five times we missed chances that we need to take at the highest level. But the intent was there and there plenty of positives to draw on."
Lancaster has previously hinted that he will rotate his options throughout a busy end-of-year campaign that will also include clashes with South Africa and New Zealand. Winger Chris Ashton looks set to return to the side having sat out the Fiji game through suspension with two-try hero Charlie Sharples set to vie with fellow wing Ugo Monye for the chance to start on the other flank.
However, another stand out performer against Fiji - fullback Alex Goode - looks to have a better chance of being retained after Lancaster lavished him with praise. "I thought Alex was excellent," said Lancaster. "It was a tight call between him and Mike Brown, we just thought that Alex had the edge in what he could offer to help Toby Flood in attack and I thought he did that extremely well.
"Toby felt the benefit of having someone else outside him organising the backline. He is also a clever and creative player with ball in hand, he puts people into holes and creates opportunities for others as well as himself. But that is not to decry Mike Brown either who has had an outstanding 12 months. I am sure his chance will come again, we will also look at opportunities to put him on the wing and he did well in his cameo appearance as well."
Prop Alex Corbisiero and centre Jonathan Joseph have both returned to the selection mix for England this week after recovering from knee and ankle injuries respectively. Corbisiero linked up with the rest of the squad on Sunday having made his first appearance of the season in London Irish's Anglo-Welsh Cup victory over Sale Sharks. Joseph, who was unavailable for the Fiji game with an ankle injury, trained with England today for the first time since the summer tour of South Africa.
Centre Manu Tuilagi (foot) and lock Geoff Parling (shoulder) both sat out training but both are expected to be fit to face the Wallabies.
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