/ England

/ Features

Phil Vickery

Phil Vickery Phil Vickery RSS FeedFeeds

World Cup-winning prop Phil Vickery won 73 caps for England between 1998 and 2009 and toured twice with the British & Irish Lions tours. He now runs his own clothing company, Raging Bull

Phil Vickery Column
England must find new level of intensity
Phil Vickery
June 17, 2014
It is time for Dylan Hartley to start © Getty Images

It is a sign of just how far England have come that I sat there in the aftermath of their one-point loss to the All Blacks on Saturday and felt disappointed. Disappointed because this was an opportunity which escaped England.

On Saturday England, for the first time in a while, were outmuscled. They lost the gainline which is not something we have associated with this crop of players. While England go into the contact area with one man up, the All Blacks latch on and drive through. It is so effective and forms a huge part of their game.

There was also a first for me, errors in defence. Their rush defence, under the superb Andy Farrell, has been something which they pride themselves on. But while they did the first bit right - forcing the All Blacks to the wing and making them cut inside - they then fell off tackles. You simply cannot do that against the All Blacks.

The Kiwis are a team who have not got many weaknesses in their ranks. I think England could get at Aaron Cruden a little more and they can definitely bully them up front, but now it comes down to the players themselves. I truly believe England have it in them to beat New Zealand on Saturday but it depends how much the individuals want it.

What needs to happen is for the English players to find a new level of intensity in themselves. Rugby's a team sport, it's about the team but when you segment it, it is still selfish.

Whenever I played, I always wanted to put in a performance. Though it is a team sport, it still comes down to the individual. It's no different to working in a business, it's always about the bigger picture, the team, but you have to perform to your maximum ability to achieve the victory.

"England have done enough over the past two games to ensure the rest of the world has sat up and taken notice of them. When was the last time we said that?"

If you can find that level, everyone else follows. That's a mindset of mine, it's not arrogance, it's about setting standards. England now have to find that and they are capable, in my mind, of taking their game to the next level. They have the quality, it is just a question of belief.

The series may be gone, but there is still so much to be achieved in Hamilton. I look back to the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour. We were 2-0 down going to Johannesburg but the win there in Ellis Park was huge for me on a personal level and even though we had lost overall to the Boks, we could go back with our heads held high knowing we got a victory on foreign soil.

England should be aiming for nothing less on Saturday and for that match I'd love to see Dylan Hartley and Billy Vunipola back in the pack. It is no slight on how Rob Webber and Ben Morgan have done but Hartley and Vunipola made good impacts from the bench in Dunedin and should be given the chance to start from the outset.

The same goes for Courtney Lawes who should get the chance alongside Geoff Parling. I am a huge fan of Joe Launchbury and will champion him until the cows come home but with the series gone, Lancaster should see how Lawes and Parling operate together. The opportunities before the World Cup are decreasing by the Test.

I also think Manu Tuilagi should go back into the centres. As an opposition coach, when you sit down and plan how to play England, you would be far more worried about him at outside centre than you would on the wing. If he is moved back into the centres, then Chris Ashton deserves a chance on the flank.

What England have done over the last three years is remarkable. It used to be a case that when you came to New Zealand, you were happy to keep the match under 50 points. That's not the case anymore. But for the odd error here and the odd error there, we could be sitting here talking about England being 2-0 up in the series.

What they have learnt over the past two Tests will stand them in good stead for a year's time at the World Cup. You can get away with drifting in and out of matches at Six Nations level but not against the big three.

England have done enough over the past two games to ensure the rest of the world has sat up and taken notice of them. When was the last time we said that? Probably 2003, that's how much improvement they have made. The perfect ending will be a win on Saturday and if England reach an 80-minute performance, they will achieve it.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Football

  • Cricket

  • Rugby

    • Days
    • Hrs
    • Mins
    • Secs

    F1 - Australian GP

  • OtherLive >>

    Golf - Joburg Open
    Golf - Honda Classic
    Tennis - Dubai Championships
    Tennis - Mexican Open
  • Latest
  • Most Viewed
  • News
  • Features
  • Rugby

    Ireland stifle England out of Grand Slam chase

    A Robbie Henshaw try and a nerveless kicking performance from Jonny Sexton ensured Ireland kicked England's Grand Slam aspirations into touch in Dublin

  • Rugby

    Young try double gives Wasps victory

    Wasps continued their impressive Premiership record at the Ricoh Arena as they downed Gloucester 32-21 to claim a fourth maximum points victory of the season

  • Football

    It's frightening to think what Coutinho is worth - Rodgers

    Brendan Rodgers hailed Philippe Coutinho as "a joy to watch" after the midfielder scored a spectacular winner against Manchester City and claimed it is "frightening" to think what the Brazilian could be worth

  • Football

    Pellegrini refuses to give up Manchester City's title hopes

    Manuel Pellegrini insisted Manchester City's title challenge is not over after defeat to Liverpool but admitted it is getting more difficult for them to retain their crown

  • Football

    Liverpool can 'go far' with magicians like Coutinho

    Adam Lallana insists Liverpool will "go far" with players like Philippe Coutinho after the Brazilian's brilliant winner spurred them to victory against Manchester City on Sunday

  • Rugby

    Saint-Andre's France future in the balance

    With the World Cup only a few months away, the last thing France needed was doubts over the future of their coach, writes Huw Richards

  • Rugby

    Italian bulldozers wreck Scotland revival talk

    They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay

  • Week in Words

    Giroud gets emotional

    In the latest edition of ESPN's Week in Words, Olivier Giroud gets emotional, Dimitar Berbatov is a bit smug, Arsene Wenger is hurting and Rory McIlroy is "p***** off"

  • Formula 1

    I didn't get here by being 'the son of'

    ESPN sat down with Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz in Barcelona to talk his rookie year, escaping his famous father's shadow and the step up to the big league in 2015

  • Horse Racing

    Horses for courses

    Kempton Park and which other course have a race named after Desert Orchid?

  • News
  • Features
Sponsored Links
Make Huge Income from your Home
Download your Free Guide And Learn How To Increase Your Monthly Income
Make $170 in 60 seconds!
Google Vs Facebook, 60 sec. knock out! Choose a champion, Become a Winner!
Make $25 in 1 Minute!
Start trading with the biggest broker! Register now to receive $25 for FREE!