Lancaster insists England are ‘united’

Date published: September 28 2015

England head coach Stuart Lancaster has said that while his side are "hugely disappointed" following their defeat to Wales, they head into this week's crunch clash with Australia as a united squad.

The World Cup hosts saw their chances of progressing to the quarter-finals suffer a huge blow when they were beaten 28-25 by Wales on Saturday, a result which means that defeat to the Wallabies this weekend will all but end their hopes of progressing from Pool A, particularly if Wales manage to see off Fiji earlier in the week.

Captain Chris Robshaw has come in for considerable criticism for his decision to go for touch in the final minutes of the encounter rather than for posts when a penalty kick would have been enough to draw the sides level.

The remainder of the England side has not been immune from criticism either, with the English press and fans not packing any punches in their assessment of what was a bitterly disappointing result for the hosts.

However, Lancaster has insisted that no player will be used as a scapegoat

for their defeat.

"Games are never won and lost on one decision, but obviously that was a big moment," he said of the decision not to go for posts.

"Lots of decisions we made were good, but decision-making at the breakdown and to give penalties away, and decision-making as to whether to go for goal or the corner are all things that players have to make in the heat of the battle.

"The one thing I would do is never hang any of the players out to dry for making those decisions. We'll review them privately, not publicly. We stay united."

England now have to quickly dust themselves off as they prepare to take on Australia, and Lancaster is sweating over a number of players ahead of the crunch clash.

The loss of centre Jonathan Joseph for the match against Wales necessitated a reshuffle in the midfield, while loose forward Ben Morgan was also not considered through injury.

In addition, scrum-half Ben Youngs, number eight Billy Vunipola and lock Courtney Lawes all picked up injuries against the Welsh and face a race against time to be fit for the weekend's encounter.

"Hopefully Ben Morgan and JJ will be fit again and we can consider them but Ben Youngs, Courtney Lawes and Billy Vunipola are doubts," said Lancaster.

"To a certain extent your selection is dictated by your injury situation, but clearly if someone like JJ is fit he's a high-quality player and we'd want him back in the team."

Regardless of how the injury situation unfolds, Lancaster believes that his side are ready for the huge task ahead of them.

"If we said to the players you can play again tomorrow, they'd play tomorrow because they're so frustrated and disappointed having lost that game having been in such a dominant position so there'll be no problem with the mentality of the players," he added.

"It's a massive game for us and everyone knows the stakes, so I'll have no problems getting the players ready – 100% we'll be ready."