/ Six Nations 2015

Lancaster praises England's collective effort

Updated: Thursday, 15 Mar 2012 16:28

Stuart Lancaster - "We're very excited to be playing back at Twickenham in front of our own fans but also playing against a high-quality Ireland side"
Stuart Lancaster - "We're very excited to be playing back at Twickenham in front of our own fans but also playing against a high-quality Ireland side"

England interim coach Stuart Lancaster deflected personal praise today as he commended the "collective" effort which has breathed fresh life into the team.

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After a hugely disappointing World Cup, tainted by a whiff of scandal off the pitch and blighted by poor performances, a new-look England have given a strong account of themselves so far in the RBS 6 Nations.

Wins over Scotland and Italy were followed by a narrow loss to Wales before Lancaster's side claimed a welcome win in Paris over France, the team that ended their World Cup campaign in the quarter-finals.

Now Ireland await England at Twickenham on Saturday, with the home side still in with a slim chance of winning the championship.

Lancaster is a strong contender to be coach on a permanent basis, but has rivals for the post, including Nick Mallett.

"I've tended to focus all energy this week on getting ready for the game really so I've not put too much thought into the next steps or what the future might hold," Lancaster said at England's press conference today.

"It has been about preparing the team really. The job is so consuming with the number of things you have to deal with on a daily basis."

Although Lancaster has been widely praised, he said: "I don't think it's about me. There's been a collective. The assistant coaches - Andy (Farrell) and Graham (Rowntree) - have been outstanding.

"The management team, the majority of whom went to the World Cup, have rolled their sleeves up and really committed to this new journey.

"And the players themselves have been brilliant, you couldn't fault their effort, not one of them."

Asked to discuss how long the procedure of appointing a full-time head coach could take, Lancaster said: "I couldn't comment definitely on the timescales because it's not my decision.

"There's a group set up that are going to interview people and they'll decide at whatever point they deem it. My job is to get the team ready."

Ireland carry plenty of attacking threat and Lancaster said: "It's going to be a great game on Saturday.

"We're very excited to be playing back at Twickenham in front of our own fans but also playing against a high-quality Ireland side who are probably a bit unlucky themselves not to be going for the grand slam when you look at some of their results and performances.

"It'll be a great occasion and we're looking forward to it."

Ireland have won on three of their previous four visits to Twickenham and Rob Kearney this week argued their dominance of the fixture is purely because they are a superior team.

Lancaster would not acknowledge that, but said: "They're a good side without a doubt. Ireland will know enough about us to recognise we're probably a slightly different side that has played previously. They'll be looking at us in a different way.

"What will be in both coaching teams' minds is what's happened in the previous few games. I'd like to think our performances have improved but also we recognise Ireland are playing pretty well as well. It's set up for a good old game."