- 2003 RWC winner Josh Lewsey chats about England’s recent progress
- The environment now seems right with England says 55-cap star
Photo: Getty Images
Rugby World Cup winner Josh Lewsey is fully expecting to see England continue their rapid upward progress in 2011.
Lewsey played at full back when Martin Johnson lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2003 and scored the try against France that secured England’s place in the 2007 final.
He believes Johnson – now England’s Team Manager – and his coaches have got the environment right for his successors to flourish with another World Cup just nine months away.
"Last year they [England] 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,” said Lewsey, a guest of sevens world series title sponsors HSBC in Dubai this month.
"We saw at the 2007 World Cup the turnaround you can make if you get the right mindset and that mindset change has occurred. Johnno and the coaches have got the environment right and that is palpable.
"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.
"Fundamentally the environment is right and you can see the guys enjoy what they’re doing. We saw the running game and the mindset to take them on and we can live with the best in the world."
Back three excellence mirrors team improvement
Photo: Getty Images
As a former international wing and full back with 55 England caps, Lewsey is excited about the back three of Mark Cueto, Chris Ashton and Ben Foden, and argues their progress mirrors that of the team as a whole.
"Everyone’s talking about Foden, Ashton and Cueto – and there are other guys in the wings like Ugo Monye, David Strettle and Paul Sackey – and their quality’s never been in doubt," said Lewsey, who also has three caps for the British and Irish Lions.
"These guys haven’t become better players overnight.
"The whole environment is right, the team are creating opportunities and inevitably these guys are running in tries, getting the ball in their hands and the more that happens, the more your confidence gets up and you end up playing well as a result.
Watch the full Josh Lewsey interview now on the Official England Rugby facebook group.