Josh Lewsey backs England for World Cup glory next year
Former England winger Josh Lewsey believes the current national side have what it takes to win next year’s World Cup in New Zealand.
Lewsey was part of the triumphant 2003 side and was instrumental in England’s return to the final four years later, where they were beaten by South Africa.
“I think England have finally turned a corner,” said Lewsey, a two-time World Cup finalist. “Last season we were playing a contrived style and it didn’t suit us. Johnno and the coaches have got the environment right and that is palpable.
“Last year they were languishing in eighth place and if you had asked me then [if there was time to turn things around] I would have been a bit worried about it.”
England currently find themselves fourth in the IRB rankings thanks to wins over Samoa and Australia despite losing their most recent international against the Springboks in a replay of the 2007 final.
“I enjoyed the autumn internationals,” Lewsey added. “The last game against South Africa was a bit of a kick up the backside but I think it will work well for us because the players realise they are not quite there yet.
“Against South Africa we got overpowered a bit and it is learning to have that all-round ability.
He added: “To compete against the best teams in the world you need to develop this all-court game. We saw the running game and the mindset of taking a game to these teams that we can live with the best in the world.”
Despite coming up short against both South Africa and next year’s host nation New Zealand, Lewsey warned England’s rivals not to underestimate Martin Johnson’s young side.
“Do I think England will win in 2011? If I was New Zealand I would be looking over my shoulder because you just get the feeling that the sleeping giant is beginning to wake,” he declared.
England have been drawn in Pool B for next year’s tournament alongside Argentina, Six Nations rivals Scotland, Romania and 2003 pool opponents Georgia.