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'It's quite scary' - England still aiming to be the best side to ever play rugby

By PA
Charlie Ewels of England and Joe Launchbury of England compete in a maul (Photo by Dan Mullan - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images )

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Charlie Ewels insists England still retain the aim of being the greatest team to have played rugby as they look to rebuild from a calamitous Six Nations.

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Eddie Jones set his side the challenge in January 2020 and while silverware followed in the form of a Championship crown and success in the Autumn Nations Cup, they have fallen far short of their head coach’s ambitious target.

In March they completed their worst Six Nations on record by finishing fifth and, having polished off the USA and Canada in July, they now face the formidable task of subduing Tonga, Australia and South Africa over successive weekends at Twickenham.

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But Bath second row Ewels sees no reason why England can not rise to the summit of the sport and takes confidence from their World Cup semi-final victory over New Zealand in 2019.

“That’s still the vision. That’s where we want to push things. I remember sitting in that meeting and it’s quite scary,” Ewels said.

“It’s quite a scary thing to hear as a player because it’s such a big vision, but actually when you break it down into the nitty gritty we are tracking the right way, it’s just about having that drive and pushing every day to grow.

“When you look around the room and you look at some of the performances our team have put in, notably in the World Cup and particularly the semi-final victory against the All Blacks who are one of the best teams of the recent era, then you start to realise this is possible.

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“It is never about changing the game, it’s always about growing the game. How can we push the attack on? How can we make the defence better? Where can we take the set piece to?

Ewels sees the Springboks’ climb out of the doldrums in the build up to winning the 2019 World Cup to explain why the most recent Six Nations is no cause for alarm.

“It sharpens you. You look at South Africa’s run into the 2019 World Cup – they had one of the worst runs in their recent history two years out from the World Cup,” Ewels said.

“Rassie Erasmus comes in as coach and it sharpens them up and they go on to win. The good teams respond to losses. They take those tough moments to sharpen themselves and be forced to adapt and do things differently.”

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