Five challenges facing England coach Stuart Lancaster


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The Independent Online

Stuart Lancaster has finally been able to drop the interim tag after being officially appointed as England's head coach.

Lancaster laid the foundations of a new squad during the RBS 6 Nations and his task now is to build on it and deliver a winning England team at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Here, we take a look at five challenges that lie ahead for the former school teacher:

THE HONEYMOON'S OVER: England tackle South Africa four times this year plus Australia, New Zealand and Fiji in a brutal series of fixtures. Some bad results could lead to questions over Lancaster's inexperience. He has vowed to remain true to his principles even in adversity. That is sure to be tested in the coming months.

WORLD CUP SEEDINGS: England are currently fourth in the world rankings and must be there at the end of 2012 to be top seeds at their home World Cup, a tough ask given their fixture schedule. Lancaster plays down the importance of a top seeding but it would guarantee England avoid Australia, New Zealand and South Africa until the knockout stages.

ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK: England were dogged and defiant in the Six Nations but need to add attacking invention and guile to their game. Lancaster is expected to have argued for Andy Farrell to be retained in the England set-up. There has been talk of experienced New Zealand attack specialist Wayne Smith joining the management team.

NATIONAL CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE: This is a medium-term objective but it formed a central part of Lancaster's presentation to the RFU. He believes England need a state of the art training base with indoor and outdoor facilities that can also help develop national age-group teams.

WIN THE WORLD CUP: That is what Lancaster has been recruited to do. Despite his lack of top international experience, Lancaster has convinced the RFU he has the vision required for England to win in 2015 and the ability to put those plans into action over the next three years.