We continue to believe we can beat the world

INSIDE THE ENGLAND CAMP
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The Independent Online
We expected much, much better than this. It was a very flat performance by England, especially as we had gone in with such high hopes after doing the Grand Slam in the domestic campaign. We had also been very pleased with our training since arriving in South Africa.

We have constantly said since touring here last year that we intended to hit the ground running at this World Cup, but we have to admit that was not how it worked out against Argentina. You could put that down to a variety of things but above all we were probably too tense and maybe the occasion got to some of us.

I didn't feel affected in this way personally but it did feel very strange, almost surreal out there. I almost felt I was going through the motions because in my position as a wing I tend to be reliant on others to determine how easily I can get involved - and that did not turn out to be at all easy.

We disappointed with much of our set play, our ball-retention, the number of simple errors we made and missing touch, all added to the fact that we were unable to establish any pattern to our game as we had done so well before we got here. It's a bit of a mental thing, really; the build- up had been quite good but perhaps the decision not to do anything on Friday may have been detrimental.

By not training on the day before the match we tried something different but clearly it did not work too well and I would say we need to have a session, along the lines of the relaxed practices we have before matches at Twickenham, before the game against Italy on Wednesday, especially as it will again take place in the evening.

The Pumas didn't really surprise us. The only surprise was how poorly we played and as far as Argentina were concerned they did what we thought they would do, only a lot better.

We knew full well that they would be strong at the set piece and once they won some ball in the line-out they would set up rolling mauls which would put us into reverse.

They kept the game simple with their forward runners standing off, clearing opposition players out of the way and popping up the ball for the next man to run on to. We succeeded in doing this only twice in the game and these were the only times we looked like a world-class team. In a World Cup that is nowhere near enough.

I felt we had lived up to expectations during the Five Nations' Championship, when we handled the pressure well going into each game.

But in South Africa there is an unknown factor and we didn't cope with it well against the Pumas. All we can hope for now is that things improve and during our other pool matches we show we have learned the lessons. At the same time, no one should underestimate how good the Argentines are. They are among the best scavengers and scrummagers in the game and exert a lot of pressure up front.

Frankly, we do not expect the same level of technical ability from the Italians or Western Samoa and, having got this one out of the way and eked out a win, we ought to be able to dominate a bit more.

In our preparations we have approached the three pool opponents pretty much equally. We watched the Samoa-Italy game on television before going to King's Park and, although it was another scrappy game, both teams put together some good passages of play, scored some good tries and are clearly dangerous in loose play.

Which means we cannot afford to have the turnovers of possession of which we were too often guilty against Argentina. It was frustrating not to meet the expectations of the public both at home and here and we have to hope that in the next two games we can put things right.

But one poor performance does not mean winning the World Cup is any less a realistic objective; the only thing that's changed is that we probably have to play Australia and South Africa in a different order.

We never underestimate opponents - and that includes the Pumas - and we continue to believe we can beat everyone in the world. What we have to do now is prove that this was just a hiccup.

We've already had a shock and we'll keep holding our breath until Wednesday. Expect us to have shaken it off by then.

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