Rugby Union

Nick Easter: Eddie Jones can help England rediscover their identity

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Nick Easter believes England lost their identity during the World Cup and welcomes the intent of new head coach Eddie Jones to devise a gameplan founded on traditional Red Rose strengths.

Jones' four-year contract as Stuart Lancaster's successor officially started on Tuesday, although the Australian has been waiting for a visa while in Japan and will not arrive at Twickenham until the end of the week.

Upon appointing his assistants, discussing the captaincy with incumbent Chris Robshaw and selecting his elite player squad, Jones must outline in greater detail the tactics he believes will restore English fortunes.

A dismal World Cup was hamstrung by a muddled selection policy and confused gameplan, while the repeated references to New Zealand by the previous regime often grated.

Jones has pledged to use England's pack, set-piece and defence as the foundations of a pragmatic approach and Harlequins' veteran number eight Easter, who emerged from his three-year international exile in February, approves.

"The sticking point in the World Cup is that we lost our identity," Easter told Press Association Sport.

"If you're always following you'll never be leading, so let's forget about the All Blacks. They're born with a rugby ball in their hands. It's their religion and they thrive on their approach.

"I was involved in the Six Nations and we were going at sides, taking them on up front. Just look at that game against Wales in Cardiff when we beat them up up-front for 60 minutes and then they cracked.

"We scored a high number of tries in the Six Nations and the way we played should have been the blueprint for the World Cup, tactically and in selection. But as we saw, it didn't go that way.

"Because we'd lost our identity, we didn't know what our best side was. You've got to know how you want to play, what is your identity as a team and then pick the best side to execute.

"You've got to know your strength and become very good at it. Make sure other areas are strong, but don't try to cover all bases.

"At the very, very top you can't be doing that because you become good at certain things but not great at them and that's not good enough to trouble top sides in the world.

"We have plenty of good players and the youth systems are working - you've seen that in England reaching two of the last three junior world cup finals, winning two of them. So let's back ourselves and take on the best."

Easter started England's last outing against Uruguay and insists he will remain available for international rugby until the day he retires. The 54-cap veteran, 37, admits the arrival of a new Red Rose head coach has acted as a spur.

"When a well-respected coach comes in like that it gives English players a little bit of extra motivation," Easter said.

"I think he'll see the way English clubs performed in Europe last month and believe he has plenty to work with. He has a high pressure job, but it's a good job because the depth is there.

"He'll want to put width on the game, bring his strike weapons into play. There are plenty of options open to him."

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