Rugby - Lancaster's England vision - part two

One year ago Stuart Lancaster sat as the interim England coach at the launch of the Six Nations championship and articulated his radical plan to overhaul not only the playing staff but the entire culture of his squad.

True to his word he ditched many of the old faces associated with England's World Cup failures on and off the pitch and blooded seven new caps in his first game against Scotland, which England narrowly won.

More wins and more new faces followed as Lancaster sought to put in place the foundations for his assault on the 2015 World Cup. There were some struggles along the way but also many high points, notably the impressive Six Nations wins against France and Ireland and culminating in December's stunning 38-21 victory over New Zealand.

England's second-place finish in the Six Nations, alongside his remarkable restoration of the national mood surrounding the team, earned him the job on a permanent basis, and when he faced the media back in environs of the same west London Hurlingham Club on Wednesday, Lancaster was a man with a new mission.

"I'd like to think we did deliver a change," he said, sitting alongside Chris Robshaw, the man he installed as captain despite the flanker having one cap to his name.

RIGHT CULTURE

"On the back of the World Cup we made 15 changes, seven players got their first caps in my first game and the most important thing for me was to get that culture right and the reason why playing for England is special.

"Speaking to people at grass roots rugby level, people are optimistic with what we are doing, trying to take a young group of players through to the World Cup.

"You see it at Twickenham, even though we didn't win all the games people were behind us and that helps.

"We've not won every game but we haven't been smashed in any of them and we've always been competitive. "The trick now is to build on that All Black performance and get the consistency we need to win at the highest level and there is no better place to prove yourself than the Six Nations.

Lancaster will go about his business with a different set of targets this year. Having not lost at home to Scotland for 30 years he, and England's newly enthused fans, will expect a winning start at Twickenham on Feb. 2.

Ireland and Wales away will not be easy, nor France at home, but a repeat of the performance against the All Blacks would make those games entirely winnable.

After a year of changes, the England team is beginning to bed down and get to know each other. They are still callow in international terms, boasting not many more than 200 caps between them when they beat an All Black side of almost 800, but it has been a steep learning curve.

PREPARE PROPERLY

"We are at a different point now," Lancaster said. "We've had the same coaching team and the same group of players generally and a good understanding of where we are technically and tactically so our start point is higher (from a year ago).

"That all counts for nothing if you don't prepare properly of course and we need to repeat the things we did well against New Zealand and do them consistently.

"What we did was not back up an error with an error and that's what we strive towards.

"But the defining point for me in that game was not the tries or the scoreline but the last minute and a half when we were down to 14 men and could have conceded a try but didn't. That mentality and that fight is a bigger defining point of difference between teams."

Growing with Lancaster every step of the way has been Robshaw, the openside flanker who also led Harlequins to the Premiership title in a wonderful personal 2012.

"A year ago Chris had one cap and I had none," said Lancaster of his trusty lieutenant.

"What he's done particularly well has been to not let the responsibility of captaincy affect his own game.

"The stats he produces week in week out - rucks, carries, tackles - he's top every time.

"His ability to lead and play at the same time has really impressed me."

It was not all upbeat for Lancaster on Wednesday, however, as he revealed that flanker Tom Johnson will miss the entire Six Nations with a knee injury sustained on Saturday.

Prop Alex Corbisiero will also miss at least the first two games with a long-standing knee problem while centre Manu Tuilagi is a doubt for the Scotland game with a twisted ankle.