England boss Steve Borthwick insists he is excited about his players’ World Cup potential as he launches a thorough investigation into Guinness’s disappointing Six Nations campaign.
The Rose Red finished the tournament with two wins and three losses for the third consecutive year after losing 29-16 to Grand Slam champions Ireland in Dublin.
England’s performance at the Aviva Stadium greatly improved from Twickenham’s fourth-round humiliation at the hands of France as they battled gamely against the world-ranked team, despite losing full-back Freddie Steward to a red card before half-time.
However, results and performances over the past seven weeks have given little indication that Borthwick’s side will be a major force at the World Championships this fall in France.
The former Leicester boss, who replaced Eddie Jones in December, is looking forward to getting more time to work with his squad and believes there are encouraging signs for the future.
“We will debrief these six nations comprehensively, take the lessons we draw from them and be clear about our direction going forward,” Borthwick said.
“I’ve already said there’s a gap (for the big nations). The team is not where it could be and while we judge teams that have used this four-year cycle very well, that’s not what happened with England, and that’s not the position England is in.” I can’t do anything about the past.
“It is my intention that we work hard to put England in the best possible position and I am excited about what these players can do for the World Cup.”
England finished fourth in the competition – behind Ireland, France and Scotland.
The visitors took the lead for most of the first half of Saturday night’s game against the in-form Irishman thanks to the first two halves of Owen Farrell’s three penalties.
However, after hooker Dan Sheehan crossed to move Ireland forward, Steward was sent off for hitting the head of opposing full-back Hugo Keenan.
A week after losing 53-10 to the French, a depleted England did not rise but were eventually comfortably beaten after further tries from Robbie Henshaw, Sheehan and Rob Herring, with Jimmy George snatching consolation.
“We have a number of weeks to prepare (for the World Cup), and then the players will be adapted to international rugby, and the players will understand how we want to play,” said Borthwick.
“It was a great tournament, five intense matches, and then you really only have one main training session a week.
“I’m looking forward to getting the chance to work with the players for a longer period and I think we can make some progress.
“I think we’ve seen some growth here but I think we’ll see more in this prep period.”
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