Robinson keen to establish fortress Twickenham

Andy Robinson admits England need to sharpen their killer instinct if they are to stand any chance of becoming the first nation to successfully retain the rugby World Cup. [more]

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Andy Robinson admits England need to sharpen their killer instinct if they are to stand any chance of becoming the first nation to successfully retain the rugby World Cup.

England’s aura of invincibility was broken immediately after the World Cup victory in 2003 and a run of nine defeats in 16 Tests has seen them slip to sixth in the International Rugby Board’s rankings.

Under Robinson England have won just four of eight Tests, with three of those coming against Canada, Italy and Scotland.

Even discounting the chaos that could erupt further down the line if the row between the Rugby Football Union and Premier Rugby is not settled, Robinson has less than two years to rebuild England’s winning habit.

So he hopes that process will begin on November 12 against Australia and continue over the subsequent two weekends when England host the ominous All Blacks and the tough Samoans at Twickenham.

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Robinson said: "These three games will provide a massive test for us. It’s all about creating a fortress at Twickenham to start with and these three internationals will tell us a lot about how far down that road we are.

"In each of the eight games we played last season we had opportunities to win the match, but ended up with a 50-50 record, winning four and losing four.

"All the games were lost by one score and in three of the games we were in the lead going into the last 10 minutes.

"We clearly couldn’t sustain our momentum for the full 80 minutes, so that’s obviously something we have to focus on improving this year.

"We have to concentrate on our game understanding, too, as we lost those matches because of penalties we gave away. We have to look at our ability to close games out."

Robinson has been forced to change his plans for the autumn Tests and on Wednesday announced a 30-man squad containing six changes to the training party he selected only a month ago.

Unavailable through injury were Joe Worsley, Iain Balshaw and Alex Brown, who seemed destined for a debut cap, while Stuart Abbott, James Simpson-Daniel and Tom Palmer have been demoted to the stand-by list.

In their respective places, Andy Hazell, Tom Voyce, Steve Borthwick, Olly Barkley, Ben Cohen and Louis Deacon have been included.

Cohen suffered a dramatic drop in form last season and has not played for England since appearing off the bench against France in February.

But six tries in four games earned him a call-up and the 27-year-old said: "I saw rugby as just a job last year and one I did not enjoy. Now I am enjoying my rugby because it is a sport that I love. I was really surprised to hear the news and I am chuffed."

Robinson returned from his involvement with the British & Irish Lions perhaps more aware than anyone of the need for England to redesign their game if they are to once again be setting the standards at World Cup time.

"England won’t copy anyone, because it’s not in our nature to copy," Robinson told England Rugby magazine.

"We have to draw out exactly what’s best for England from all the sources that are out there in order to achieve that goal.

"I’m looking for a bit of consistency in team selection and I’m looking to end up in a position this time next year where we have 25 players who could all genuinely be pushing for a starting England place.

"And I’d definitely like us to have won a number of games, starting this autumn.

"Australia are in a very unusual position in that they’re coming to Twickenham on the back of five straight defeats. I doubt that’s ever happened before.

"There’s no doubt New Zealand are the number one team in the world right now and to get where we want to go, then we need to play against the best and beat the best."

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