In the Autumn England found out they were not quite where they hoped to be but made improvements throughout the 4 tests they played.
So I would have imagined that Stuart Lancaster would have been looking at the Six Nations with a quiet confidence. Then came the string of injuries. This changed the way the English rugby public were looking at the opening encounter with Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
I can’t remember when last England traveled to Cardiff genuinely feeling like this is mission impossible.
If you want to win a World Cup, you can’t let anything stand in your way even having half your first choice players unavailable.
The way England came through that situation, to me said they want to win a Grand Slam and they want to win the World Cup.
3 players showed that wearing the England top is as important as the first time they wore it or maybe even more so. I love the way Danny Care plays the game but Ben Youngs and him have taken their turns in wearing the number 9 shirt. Youngs looking as good as he did a few years back when he was first choice.
Billy Vunipola said don’t forget about me, Owen Morgan got Injured and everyone was talking Nick Easter. Vunipola made countless carries making the hard yards forward in the close channels and tackled and tackled. Stuart Lancaster never disrupted that back-row combination because it looked so good instead pulled the very impressive George Kruis off to be replaced by Easter.
That brings me to talk about James Haskell. That quite easily could have been Haskell’s best performance in a England top ever.
Now England play Italy, England are favorites. This will be a new test to see if they can motivate themselves and not only see off the Italians but put up a performance that makes a statement.