Expert advice helping Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster
Stuart Lancaster has sought advice from other sports ahead of the World Cup
©Press Association

Stuart Lancaster has picked the brains of other sporting leaders including Sir Dave Brailsford and Roy Hodgson as he tries to leave no stone unturned ahead of this year's World Cup.

He has spent time with Brailsford, who engineered Great Britain's cycling dominance at the London 2012 and England's football head coach, Roy Hodgson.

Lancaster has also turned to cricket with Andrew Strauss, Peter Moores and Andy Flower also offering their input.

He said: "Speaking to Sir Dave Brailsford, Dave very much emphasised you have got two ways of thinking about it.

"You either think, 'What happens if we don't succeed?', or positively, you think, 'What happens when it all goes right?' and 'What it's going to feel like if we can really, really perform well?'.

"They did that exceptionally well, so managing that home Olympics was successfully done by every sport, really, there were very few sports that didn't deliver.

"I spoke to Roy Hodgson about his experience at the World Cup, I spoke to Andy Flower and Peter Moores the cricket guys.

"We don't speak consistently, but often you get chances to have a conversation and you can ask how they went about it, how they did it. We all want each other to succeed. You'd be daft not to work together.

"We had Andrew Strauss speak to the players 18 months ago. The players took a lot from that about managing the pressure of winning an Ashes series, and why they felt they didn't continue that success.

"But we can't look too far ahead. We have the Six Nations first."

After a challenging season ended with victories over Samoa and Australia, Lancaster knows that England must lay down a marker in the RBS Six Nations, which begins next month.

However, he is also aware that for all the meticulous planning in the world, the difference between success and failure could come down to one vital moment - just as it did in 2003 when Jonny Wilkinson's last-gasp drop goal sealed victory over Australia in the final.

"My belief is that if you get the players to concentrate on the process of building a successful team and getting the technical and tactical detail right and delivering under pressure, that is what comes first.

"With Jonny Wilkinson, yes it came down to one kick, but it was a tremendous team effort, a fantastic experienced team which worked for five to six years, great coaches, and it all came together.

"It shows how tough it is to win a World Cup because that was a drop-kick in the last minute of extra time, New Zealand last year won by a point having been the number one-ranked team.

"To win seven games in seven weeks back-to-back and deliver under pressure, whoever wins it will deserve it."

And Lancaster will also have to deal with the pressure of expectation as he tries to guide the nation to World Cup success on home soil for the first time.

This is not something that fazes him, however.

He said: "I remember back in 2012 when [RFU chief executive] Ian Ritchie said to me, 'We'd like to give you the opportunity to coach England full-time'. At that point, it was to January 2016 and I remember thinking, 'Wow! That includes the World Cup', and there was no changing at that point.

"Being the head coach of the England rugby team, there's pressure anyway, and obviously with the World Cup in England, probably more so. But ultimately all you can do is the best of your ability.

"You work hard and give the players the best chance of success, and ultimately you know when you go into this tournament, such is the quality of the teams that you are playing against, on any given day, any of the teams could get a win and that win could be the crucial one from a quarter-final to a semi or a semi to a final.

"The bounce of a ball or a referee's decision equally could influence the result, so you have just got to prepare as best you can and see what happens."