Rugby World Cup 2011: Steve Thompson welcomes England inquest

Rugby World Cup 2011

Venue:
Otago Stadium, Dunedin
Date:
Saturday, 24 September
Kick-off:
0700 BST/ 1800 NZ
Coverage:
Live text commentary, scores and report on BBC websites; Updates on BBC Radio 5 live; Watch live on ITV1, live commentary on TalkSport radio
Steve Thompson (centre)
Thompson (centre) is England's most capped hooker

Hooker Steve Thompson believes England will be stronger for a clear-the-air meeting in the wake of two underwhelming World Cup victories.

Team manager Martin Johnson admitted his side must improve or be eliminated, while back row James Haskell called for those underperforming to be singled out by their team-mates.

"Sometimes you've got to have a little bit of an argument," said Thompson.

"It's like a relationship. Sometimes you get a little bit stale, don't you?"

Although England followed a 13-9 victory over Argentina in their opening Pool B match with a 41-10 win over Georgia, they have lacked both conviction and discipline.

In addition to conceding 25 penalties in the two matches, England have received two yellow cards, with Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole sent to the sin-bin.

Second row Courtney Lawes was banned for two matches after being found guilty of using a knee on Pumas hooker Mario Ledesma.

A bout of soul-searching has followed in a bid to rediscover the form that secured the Six Nations title earlier this year.

"Sometimes everyone needs to give each other a little pat on the back or a little boot up the backside and that's what's happening. It's perfect for us," added Thompson.

"Some reviews are nice and easy, some are harder and some are a bit more brutal. The harder meetings are just because we've got such high standards and we've got to get up to the standards again.

"Honesty is the best policy, as they say, 'stab you in the belly rather than in the back', that's what we need."

England have reached the final at the last two tournaments - winning eight years ago against Australia before losing to South Africa in Paris in 2007 - with both runs coming after unconvincing early showings in the tournament.

"In 2003, we had exactly the same thing after the Samoa game when we came close to losing. We had to move on," said Thompson of England's narrow 35-22 victory in their early stages their only successful campaign.

"Sometimes if you are winning ugly and being harsh on yourself, it's a good place to be."

In the 2007 competition a frank meeting between the players and then-head coach Brian Ashton after a 36-0 defeat by South Africa in the group stages produced a marked improvement.

England play Romania on Saturday in Dunedin before taking on Scotland seven days later in Auckland.

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