Stuart Lancaster refuses to be drawn on future should England lose to Australia

England Rugby

Stuart Lancaster has refused to be drawn on his future should England go out of the World Cup by losing to Australia this weekend.

Asked if his job was on the line this Saturday night, the England head coach replied: “If you start distracting yourself with the what-ifs you aren’t doing your job. There are a lot of things to play out in the next two weeks.”

He said his role as coach was only to concentrate on the coming match and that it was impossible to look beyond.

“It’s a must-win game because if we lose we don’t get out of the group,” he admitted. “So there’s no point hiding where the accountability lies.

“As a head coach you don’t take the players beyond Saturday, you take them to Saturday. You put them in the right place to play a strong game on Saturday.

“There’s no denying it, the stakes are huge for us, but the boys will be ready. I’m not going beyond this game, there’s a lot of things to play out over the next two weeks.

“You can’t spend your time thinking about what’s happened in the past or what might happen in the future. If you distract yourself with the what-ifs then you aren’t doing your job.”

Lancaster, who has a contract with the Rugby Football Union that takes him up to 2020 and includes the 2019 tournament in Japan, welcomed the return of Jonathan Joseph to the lineup announced on Thursday, saying: “To have him back in the team is a real positive. I still had my fingers crossed in the fitness test yesterday, but he’s ready to play.”

Joseph made a faster-than-expected recovery from his chest injury and will line up alongside Brad Barritt in the centre. Owen Farrell retains his place at fly-half, with Sam Burgess reverting to the bench in the wake of the 28-25 defeat to Wales.

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