England maturing into contenders - Andrew
December 29, 2010
Chris Ashton scores one of the great Twickenham tries against Australia © PA Photos
The RFU's elite rugby director Rob Andrew believes England are finally developing the mindset of champions after a year which has seen them mature into contenders for the World Cup.
England endured a difficult start to 2010 with inspid perfomances against Italy and Scotland in the Six Nations leading to huge criticism of the team as they finished the tournament with just two victories.
However, they began to turn it around on their tour of Australia which culminated in a 21-20 victory in Sydney in the second test. Martin Johnson's men went on to repeat that success with a thrilling win over the Wallabies at Twickenham and also beat Samoa in the autumn internationals.
And, despite defeats to New Zealand and South Africa in November, Andrew insists that Johnson's winning mentality is finally rubbing off on his squad.
"The players are learning that there is no room for any drop in any aspect of your performance," Andrew said. "Matin talks about this a lot: you have to be an international player every day, not just a couple of days before you play New Zealand, and that's a mindset that's coming back into the England squad."
The emergence of youngsters such as Courtney Lawes, Chris Ashton, Dan Cole and Ben Youngs has played a significant role in England's transformation. And Andrew says the development of those players proves the production line is working.
"That's what we've worked so hard on for the last four years and that's coming to fruition now," Andrew said. "The under 18s have lost one game in three years, the under 20s have been to two World Cup finals - we haven't won it yet but that's the next step, we've got a very good side this year - the Saxons have been very successful over time and you can see those players coming into the seniors. That pathway's very good."
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