Nick Easter happy with tough World Cup pool

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The Independent Online

Nick Easter is satisfied England's pool at the World Cup will leave the team sufficiently battle hardened for the knockout stages.

The Six Nations champions open the tournament against Argentina on September 10 and also face Georgia, Romania and Scotland.

In 2007, Australia and New Zealand paid the price for their romp through the group stages by falling apart during pressure-cooker quarter-finals, with the Wallabies losing to England.

"Absolutely you want a challenging pool. You don't want it too tough obviously because you could end up giving everything just to get out of it," said Easter.

"You definitely want some tough games or matches where not everything goes according to plan so you have to work out different situations.

"In quarter and semi-finals things don't go according to plan and the opposition is as desperate as you to win it.

"If you haven't had that match practice or played under that pressure or intensity in previous matches, you can get caught on the hop.

"That's certainly what happened to New Zealand the last time around."

Easter believes the southern hemisphere giants could encounter completely the opposite type of problem heading into the knockout stages thanks to the staging of the Tri-Nations.

New Zealand, Australia and South Africa will play each other in the annual tournament beginning on July 23.

Even in its reduced format, adjusted to account for the World Cup, they will stay play four matches that Easter claims could leave them "over-cooked".

"This time the northern hemisphere teams might have a little bit of an advantage over the southern hemisphere teams in terms of the scheduling because we've had a break," he added to Press Association Sport.

"We don't have any rugby match now until the first warm-up game in August, so we have a good window to train hard and get prepared properly.

"But in the southern hemisphere their Super 15 season is longer than usual and has gone on an extra month. Then they have the Tri-Nations.

"They might be a little over-cooked, while for us it's just like heading into a normal season.

"At our clubs we'd be doing pre-season at this time and start playing in September."