P – Rebuilding morale in the battered and bruised England World Cup squad has been a hard battle, their beleaguered coach Stuart Lancaster conceded.
Lancaster’s position is under threat after the humiliating pool stage exit but he said he has spent this week speaking to the players as they approach their last Pool A game against minnows Uruguay on Saturday.
“After two defeats on the bounce it’s taken some work to get everybody back in the right place,” said Lancaster.
“I met all the players one-to-one on Monday and discussed their individual contributions and what they felt about the camp.”
Lancaster, who replaced Martin Johnson after England’s disastrous 2011 World Cup marred by lurid headlines about the squad’s behaviour off the pitch, is the subject of an English RFU review into the campaign.
England are the first World Cup hosts to fail to reach the knockout stages.
But some players are reluctant to give their views to the inquiry after several of the 2011 squad found their remarks made public in leaks of the report.
“There will be a lot made out of the review that is to come,” said Lancaster.
“I have no problem with the reviews, I’ve conducted them myself in age grade teams – 18s, 20s, Saxons – and after every tournament or Six Nations I’ve had there has been a review.
“The whole purpose of them is to get better.”
Lancaster, who has been castigated for his team choices, said he believed the English players’ failure to adjust to referee Jerome Garces’ manner of running the game had cost them the match against Wales.
England lost 28-25 having given up a 10 point lead.
“The disappointment of losing the Wales game highlighted for me the inability to adapt to referees,” said Lancaster.
“Ultimately, we gave them points and we have to be better in that regard.”
Lancaster has recalled flyhalf George Ford, Owen Farrell shifted to inside centre and Henry Slade was at outside centre.
Uruguay coach Pablo Lemoine has made two changes to his starting lineup. Felipe Berchesi replaces Alejo Duran at flyhalf and Mateo Sanguinetti comes in for Alejo Corral at loosehead prop.
Corral will make his 50th test appearance for Uruguay if he comes off the bench.
England: Alex Goode, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, George Ford, Danny Care; Nick Easter, Chris Robshaw, James Haskell, Geoff Parling, Joe Launchbury, Dan Cole, Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola. Reserves: Jamie George, Joe Marler, David Wilson, George Kruis, Tom Wood, Richard Wigglesworth, Jonathan Joseph, Mike Brown.
Uruguay: Gaston Mieres, Santiago Gibernau, Joaquin Prada, Andres Vilaseca, Rodrigo Silva, Felipe Berchesi, Agustin Ormaechea; Alejandro Nieto, Matias Beer, Juan Manuel Gaminara, Jorge Zerbino, Santiago Vilaseca, Mario Sagario, Carlos Arboleya, Mateo Sanguinetti. Reserves: Nicolas Klappenbach, Oscar Duran, Alejo Corral, Mathias Palomeque, Diego Magno, Agustin Alonso, Alejo Duran, Manuel Blengio.