Lawrence Dallaglio impressed by England progress

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The Independent Online

Lawrence Dallaglio thinks England have come a long way under the tutelage of Martin Johnson but believes there are a lot of improvements that can still be made.

England head to New Zealand as fourth favourites to lift aloft the Webb Ellis Trophy, marking quite a turnaround for Johnson and his troops.

Questions were raised to whether Johnson was out of his depth in his first coaching role but now the former lock has made his mark on the England side after a three-year bedding-in period.

Dallaglio believes there are still a lot of improvements that can be made but the fact they are being mentioned as potential outsiders for the World Cup is a sign of the progress that has been made.

"I think if you had asked me the question 12 months ago I think I would have sat here pretty gloomy faced," he told Press Association Sport.

"It was really getting quite depressing but the transformation has sort of gained pace.

"England have made progress in the last 12 months. They won the Six Nations championship.

"All right, they didn't win the Grand Slam and it was disappointing they lost that game (to Ireland) but they still won a Six Nations championship, which takes a lot of doing.

"They have beaten Australia and last week they beat Ireland for the first time in eight years over there.

"We can all sit here and be critical, saying they could have played a bit better. They are not perfect, there are still a lot of mistakes.

"There is still a number of positions where we probably still need competition but they are kind of grinding out results.

"Any team that is winning and is not necessarily playing brilliantly it is a good sign."

Dallaglio was speaking at the launch of his new book World Cup Rugby Tales, where he revisits previous tournaments with the help of fellow rugby glitterati.

The former Wasps flanker believes it is difficult to look beyond hosts New Zealand for this year's edition and thinks it is their trophy to lose.

"At this time, the team that seem to be New Zealand and they have been for quite a while," he said.

"There will still be questions asked whether they can close the deal out, especially in their own country.

"They blew it against Australia at the weekend, which was probably a decent result for everyone as it shows there are a few question marks around whether they can do it.

"So, it is going to be very exciting."