Chris Robshaw admits England’s autumn outlook hinges on one final assault at Twickenham and failure against Australia would leave two months to stew over a dismal QBE Series.
The rivals clash in a dress rehearsal for next year’s pool showdown at the World Cup, with Wales offering a third heavyweight presence in the tournament’s ‘group of death’. Victory over the Wallabies on Saturday would mean a psychological edge heading into England 2015 and build momentum for February’s RBS 6 Nations opener in Cardiff.
Defeat, however, would justify the notion of crisis with Stuart Lancaster’s men having succumbed at Twickenham to each of the southern hemisphere superpowers 10 months out from the World Cup.
“If we lose we must view this as a poor campaign. That disappointment would be tough to take for all the guys,” said team captain Robshaw.
“This game is huge because our next game will be at the Millennium Stadium against Wales, so we’ll be using that as big motivation.
“Ask any team in the world if they believe they should be expected to win at home and they’ll say yes. However, losing to the two best teams in the world by three points, and beating two more, is not a bad place in which to be.
“I do not think we’ve gone backwards, but we haven’t moved forwards at the pace we were moving at in last autumn’s series and in the Six Nations.”
When asked what a win would mean to Australia ahead of the pivotal World Cup showdown, Robshaw said: “Look at what happened before the 2007 World Cup. England played South Africa and lost and then lost to them twice during the actual tournament.”
England have presented a united front in response to the pressure building after three-point defeats by New Zealand and South Africa on the opening two weekends of the series.
A 28-9 victory over Samoa has bought breathing space, but that will evaporate immediately if Australia storm Twickenham. Robshaw insists his team-mates have the strength needed to shoulder the expectations.
“Guys can get fed up with the scrutiny if they are being scrutinised all the time, but I don’t see it affecting a lot of the guys,” he said. “Instead, I see them being able to distance themselves from the negativity coming their way.”