sport

Lancaster targets tour glory

Stuart Lancaster believes England have enough strength in depth to challenge for a series win in New Zealand.

England narrowly missed out on the Six Nations title following Ireland's tense victory in France, but Lancaster's men emerged from the tournament with plenty of credit.

The pain caused by an opening defeat in Paris was eased with wins over Ireland and Wales, while last weekend's thrashing of Italy nearly snatched the trophy from the Irish.

Lancaster is looking ahead to this summer's trip to New Zealand as he builds toward the 2015 World Cup and insists the tourists can produce an upset against their southern hemisphere opponents.

Players involved in the Aviva Premiership final will miss the first Test, but the head coach is confident other squad members will step-up to the task.

When asked about his tour target, Lancaster told Stuart Barnes on Rugby Club: "Not just one win really. If we're setting our sights on going to New Zealand only to win one game, I think we're effectively admitting we're happy to lose two.

"We're going to go there with a really positive mindset, irrespective of how the Premiership final plays out in terms of personnel. We'll have a very good side for the first Test, no doubt about it.

Strength

"We'll then be supplemented by the lads coming in from the Premiership final, who are obviously buoyed from that experience and I think we've got the strength in depth now to really challenge them."

Lancaster insists the door remains open for fresh faces to force themselves into his plans, but has hinted he will not make many changes to his current crop.

He wants to nurture a close-bond between the players as they ready themselves for the physical and mental demands of the tournament on their own soil.

"What needs to happen now is, the combinations that we've got in place need to have consistent game time and we've got 15 games to go now," he said.

"I wouldn't say experimentation is over. There will still be opportunities for guys to come in, but you want them to go through the fire and learn together, and then take that learning into a World Cup.

"One thing that I've looked at - what it takes to win a World Cup - is obviously a previous tournament experience, because it's unique to play seven games in seven weeks.

"I think from my point of view, all of our players will never have been through that, by the nature of the fact they were not involved in 2011.

"We need to replicate that pressure and allow the players to experience it."