English Rugby
Rowntree: 'World Cup will be harder than Lions series'
ESPN Staff
September 17, 2013
England want to bottle their win over the All Blacks and carry that forward © PA Photos

England coach Graham Rowntree says it will be a bigger challenge to win the World Cup than it was winning the series with the British & Irish Lions against Australia in the summer.

Rowntree was part of the four-man coaching team that helped guide the Lions to their first series win since 1997. He knew the pain of failure more than most having played on the 2005 tour to New Zealand and been part of the backroom staff for their trip to South Africa four years later.

But with the Lions series now a fond memory, all the focus for Rowntree switches to the 2015 World Cup, a competition England will hope to win on home soil. He will help guide England alongside fellow Lions coach Andy Farrell, head coach Stuart Lancaster and backs coach Mike Catt.

England kick-off their three-Test autumn series against Australia on November 2 and will hope to replicate the final performance of last year's November Tests which saw them shock the All Blacks at Twickenham winning 38-21.

For Rowntree, that was the benchmark and he wants England to perform at that level going forward. And when asked whether winning the World Cup would be a harder ask than winning the Lions series, Rowntree said the global gathering is the ultimate challenge.

"It is a World Cup, there will be massive pressure and home interest," Rowntree told the Times. "That is why the experience in the summer, under pressure in a hostile environment and having to deliver in that last Test, was so good for us and good for the lads.

"Expectation is the key word. We speak about wanting to be the top team, expecting to win every week. Over the past 18 months we've gone away from home, won games we shouldn't have won, beaten the All Blacks.

"We want to get to a stage where we are a team that is expected to win and deal that expectation. The All Blacks have dealt with that expectation for years."

Rowntree labels the autumn internationals "production time" and for Farrell, he hopes players will put their hands up and secure a spot in the team for the next two years as England seek to nail down their first-choice XV.

"There are a few positions in the side where this is nothing locked down; there is always competition for places," Farrell said. "But there are a couple of positions where you'd like somebody to go, "I'm going to dominate this position now."

"This is the year for a few of those new lads, those ten-cappers, or a no-capper even, to put their hands up and say, "This is my position for the next three or four years and I am going to show you why.""

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