Lancaster: Brilliant result is just reward for players' efforts


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The Independent Online

Having book-ended their autumn with an easy-beat win over the poorly prepared Fijians and a record victory over the world champion New Zealanders – but losing to Australia and South Africa in between – England and their captain, Chris Robshaw, vowed to maintain the hard-won momentum when they return to Twickenham for the Six Nations in two months' time.

Tomorrow's draw for the next World Cup may reunite England and New Zealand on English soil in a pool in 2015, but at the final whistle yesterday Robshaw was talking only of resuming with the same attitude against Scotland here in early February.

"Chris told the players that when we turn up for the Six Nations we must not drop off this level," said England's head coach, Stuart Lancaster. "It is brilliant to get this result but we're in long-term planning and we have got to make sure that we back it up.

"The win is the reward for the players' effort and it gives them belief they are on the right journey. There's a no-fear mentality to international rugby. Internally we have always believed, but externally this should give clarity to others about what we are doing."

The All Blacks' head coach, Steve Hansen, and his record-breaking captain, Richie McCaw, both rejected the vomiting bug rife in their squad earlier in the week as any excuse for their heaviest loss to England in 107 years of fixtures.

"It was a tremendous performance by England and thoroughly deserved," said Hansen, whose team were beaten for the first time in 21 Tests. "We asked them a question when we got back to 15-14 and they responded as a good team would. We got beaten by a better side and I find it interesting that everyone is surprised by this England team.

"This is a good side, people should get behind them. I'd said that Stuart and his crew were getting their game together and probably the only issue was not having many caps. That seemed to help in fact as they played with no inhibitions."

Graham Rowntree, England's forwards coach, was full of praise for Robshaw and his pack for having "the foot on the throttle from the first minute to the last", while the backs coach, Andy Farrell, said "messing up" New Zealand's ball at the breakdown was the key to a first England win over the All Blacks since 2003.

Farrell's son, Owen, the fly-half who kicked 17 points starting in place of the injured Toby Flood, said the criticism of the previous fortnight's setbacks had made England "tighter as a group". He added: "We felt that the performances werethere before and it just clicked this week.

"The togetherness we've got, there's a lot of fight in this team, there is also a champions' attitude.

"If we bring that energy to the pitch, we can beat anybody. The challenge now is not to take two or three games to warm up in the Six Nations."

McCaw said: "We struggled to get in the game from the word go. There is no doubt that there is some talent in that England team. They didn't panic and they'll get better and better with experience."