Lancaster sees bright future

Stuart Lancaster (AFP)
Stuart Lancaster (AFP)

London - Coach Stuart Lancaster has seen enough in England's new generation of backline runners to convince him there is some light at the end of the tunnel for his beleaguered side after they bowed out of the Rugby World Cup on Saturday.

Positives were always likely to be in short supply as England finished off their campaign with a 60-3 Pool A thrashing of second-tier Uruguay, but shining performances from hat-trick try scorer Jack Nowell and centre Henry Slade were small crumbs of comfort.

Yet Lancaster's decision to thrust them into the limelight at the final moment adds another "what if" question to England's World Cup charge sheet after the earlier defeats against Wales and Australia sealed their early exit from the tournament.

The coach faced stiff criticism for favouring midfield brawn over creativity in his team against Wales two weeks ago.

Yet as the bones of England's World Cup carcass are picked over in the coming days, Lancaster's decision to overlook the fledgling talents in his squad until the team had been eliminated from the tournament may also come under scrutiny.

"People will probably say 'you should have given them opportunities earlier'," Lancaster told reporters at Manchester City's stadium.

"They are talented, Henry and Jack ... Having that sort of midfield talent coming through is very exciting."

Yet there was also a caveat to his praise that suggested he was not in the mood for any mea culpa over the pair being left on the sidelines until Saturday.

"I think we still have to strive for balance. Test matches are won in different ways. Today it was won by getting the ball in space around the edges, but you have still got to win that gain-line battle and have that physicality as well."

Team selection is likely to form one strand of the Rugby Football Union's looming review of England's dismal early exit.

Lancaster repeated the well-worn line that he will not make any hasty or rash decisions about his future.

He had not had time in the past week to consider his position, he said, but he did hint that he was not about to walk away from the job of his own volition.

"Anyone in my position who has worked since December 2011 to this point would say it would be hard to walk away from, but I understand it is a results business.

"There have been a lot of opinions, but what I have tried to do is ensure the culture of the team is right (this week). Other teams under this pressure and scrutiny might have cracked, but we didn't."

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