Beating the best

Interim boss Stuart Lancaster says England's next challenge is to beat the big three, even if he isn't handed the reigns on a full-time basis. [more]

Beating the best

Interim boss Stuart Lancaster says England’s next challenge is to beat the big three, even if he isn’t handed the reigns on a full-time basis.

Lancaster led England to four wins from five outings in this year’s 6 Nations, with a narrow defeat to Wales the only blemish on his coaching record since taking over from Martin Johnson after the 2011 World Cup.

The former Leeds director of rugby has since been interviewed for the permanent position by the Rugby Football Union but experienced ex-Springbok coach Nick Mallett could yet pip him to the post.

Regardless of his own fate, Lancaster is certain of England’s next objective – to compete with Lions conquerors South Africa this summer, followed by more success against all three southern hemisphere giants at Twickenham in November and December.

"To break into the top bracket, you've got to win in the southern hemisphere, or beat southern hemisphere opposition," Lancaster told The Mirror.

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"We have three big Test matches in South Africa this summer, then four big games at Twickenham in the autumn.

"The Six Nations was exciting and progress was made, but we still have improvements to make all across the park. I believe we can win the World Cup, whoever is in charge."

Lancaster admits he is already planning for the summer trip to South Africa despite the uncertainty surrounding his role.

And even if he doesn’t get the nod from the five-man selection panel later this month or early next, he insists he will still be heavily involved in the panning and preparation and could even take on a lesser coaching job on the tour itself.

"It's out of my hands now," added Lancaster in relation to his chances of being named as Johnson’s permanent successor.

"If it's not to be, then I would go back to my role as RFU head of elite player development and Saxons head coach.

"I could coach the midweek team on tour, otherwise I would be at the U20 World Cup.

"Right now, my mindset is to ensure everything is in place for the tour. Not from a personal viewpoint, but because it is simply impossible for anybody else to go forward, from a medical point of view, conditioning, booking flights, hotels etc. These are not the sort of things you can do two weeks before you fly.

"It is always part of my nature, planning ahead, and it would be so unfair to the players not to have a vision for the future, as it would be unfair for the management."

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