Jonny Wilkinson: Sort it out or we'll be home watching it on TV
Jonny Wilkinson believes a video nasty of England's error-strewn victory over Georgia has stunned the squad into action and can avert the danger of an embarrassingly early departure from New Zealand.
Immediately after the 41-10 win, some of the backs accused the forwards of giving away too many penalties.
However, the squad have since had a debrief in which players accepted the responsibility for their mistakes and emerged determined to put the record straight against Romania here on Saturday.
Wilkinson said: "We had a team analysis meeting and it is always the most raw because it comes straight after the performance when people know the things they wished they had done better. "You sit there watching the video and it all comes out and guys can feel sore as everyone talks about the various points being highlighted. However, there are also good things thrown in to show where we need to be going next to make the most of this opportunity we have in the World Cup.
"Some really good points came out. It was all player led and there wasn't any need for anyone to say, 'That was rubbish' or for the coaches to ask, 'What were you doing there?' It was the guys individually putting their hands up and saying, 'I made that error and won't do it again'. From today's training you could see what they said they meant."
Team manager Martin Johnson made it clear immediately after the match that his squad lacked the "savvy and ruthlessness" of the 2003 team he captained to World Cup glory in Australia, one in which Wilkinson was a key member, kicking the winning drop goal in the final. Eight years ago, the team were packed with experienced, hardened players who had suffered many setbacks before evolving into the world's No1 side.
This current squad look callow in comparison, not only lacking all-round experience but also short of world-class players which means they have to operate at the very limit of their collective excellence to reach the latter stages. Although Wilkinson is fiercely loyal to the class of 2011 he echoes Johnson's warning that unless the lessons really have been learned after one 'warts and all' debrief then England could be making an early exit.
The Toulon fly-half said: "Looking at our performance, there is a sense of carelessness about what happened with balls going to ground which didn't need to and some indiscipline which cost us. Maybe, in years gone by we may have been better but it's not anything to be concerned about and we all have to get it right.
"We are all part of every decision and it's vital that we don't repeat those errors against Romania because there will come a time when there won't be another game to look forward to or a chance to put it right because we will be back playing club rugby watching the World Cup from home wondering where it went wrong. That's the urgency we all feel."
Steve Thompson, another veteran of the 2003 triumph, was keen to play down the severity of the meeting and the mistakes it highlighted.
"I have been in a lot worse debrief sessions," said the 33-year-old London Wasps hooker. "If you are winning ugly and being harsh on yourself then it can be a good place to be.
"It's about being honest and that's what this group of players is all about. Honesty is the best policy and as they say 'stab you in the belly rather than in the back'. We are honest with each other which means you walk out of the room and it's done and we just make sure that we start getting better. Today there was a great buzz in training. Everyone wants to get better and for me, it's great to be part of."
Thompson pointed to the 2003 tournament to show how England can learn from a misfiring victory.
"We had exactly the same thing after the Samoa game which we came close to losing," he said.
"Johnno is the head coach and he's got to go out there and say, 'That's not good enough' and that's what he's done. "It's the same after any game, you look at reviews; some are nice and easy, some are harder and some are a bit more brutal. We have got such high standards and have to get up to those standards again. "In a tournament like this there are ups and downs but we have got to make sure it's onwards and upwards towards a peak. "There's no point playing your best in the second or third game of the pool. We're two from two and we are moving forwards."
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