Rugby World Cup
Nick Easter urges England to focus on Six Nations success, not RWC 2019
PA Sport
October 11, 2015
Lancaster would have been looking for leaders

Nick Easter has urged England to rethink their devotion to the Rugby World Cup cycle by concentrating on building a team to conquer Europe.

The hosts ended the tournament by routing Uruguay 60-3 in Manchester but their failure to reach the knockout phase had already been confirmed by successive defeats by Wales and Australia.

The Rugby Football Union's inquest begins on Monday morning and the findings, which will include a verdict on the future of head coach Stuart Lancaster, will be published once the World Cup is over.

Players will contribute to the review with Easter ready to outline his vision for a team that must target "immediate success" in the Six Nations and on the summer tour to Australia next year rather than planning for the next global showpiece.

"What's important is that we don't look ahead to Japan in 2019," Easter said. "You've got to set goals like becoming the best team in the northern hemisphere, like good England teams did in the past. Let's win a Six Nations, win a Grand Slam.

"Then next summer there's a three-Test tour to Australia, who are looking as good as any Australia team I can remember in my career.

"Let's win those games so that we know how to win them and then remember those situations.

Chris Robshaw reacts after England's defeat by the Wallabies, England v Australia, Rugby World Cup, Twickenham Stadium, London, October 3, 2015
England became the first host nation to not make it out of the pool stages © Getty Images

"Then when the World Cup comes along, it's not about a learning anything, it's more the case of 'we've been in this situation before, we know what to do'.

"The World Cup can be decided by the bounce of the ball or a refereeing decision, so let's look at immediate success, the here and now.

"These guys are hungry for it as well because there will be no waiting around after what's happened over the last couple of weeks. They'll want to put it right as soon as possible."

Lancaster inherited a squad that was reeling from the disciplinary problems that stained the 2011 World Cup and the subsequent unavailability of a number of senior players either through retirement or their departure for clubs in France.

Easter wanted his international career to continue but was jettisoned by Lancaster, who viewed Ben Morgan and Billy Vunipola as the number eights to carry England into a new era.

The 37-year-old, who made his first Test start since 2011 against Uruguay and celebrated by scoring a hat-trick and finishing as man of the match, agrees with Lancaster that the foundations for the next assault on the Webb Ellis Cup are in place.

"At the start of 2012 it was difficult because the leadership group was me, Simon Shaw, Mark Cueto, Mike Tindall, Steve Thompson, Lewis Moody and Jonny Wilkinson," Easter said.

"It was not a case of these guys still wanting to play and were good enough but were shipped off. They were either for the knacker's yard, made their own decisions or moved on with their careers.

"It's different to last time when there was bit of a clear-out and we were finding out whether certain players could handle it and trying to build a squad.

"Now there are enough guys with enough experience. We'll be a lot more resilient for what we've come through. The guys have had lessons in the harshest of environments."

Easter has now appeared at three World Cups and insists the current regime of Lancaster and assistants Andy Farrell, Graham Rowntree and Mike Catt has been the most unified management team he has worked under.

"As far as the coaching staff are concerned they are all on the same hymn sheet which was probably a problem before when the clarity wasn't there," he said.

"The coaching staff will learn from it as much as the players. This was the happiest coaching staff I have been involved with.

"The World Cup has been disappointing but there cannot be any knee-jerk reactions in the review, it has got to be thorough. They will speak to the players, speak to the management and make sure it is thorough and the right decisions are made."

© PA Sport

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