Stuart Lancaster: England defeats have cost World Cup momentum

Stuart Lancaster
Under Stuart Lancaster, England have suffered a fifth successive defeat for the first time since 2006

England head coach Stuart Lancaster denies his team are in crisis but admits they must recapture momentum quickly in time for the 2015 World Cup.

Saturday's 31-28 loss to South Africa was England's fifth defeat in a row.

"Losing knocks momentum," said Lancaster, whose side next face Samoa. "We can't sit and feel sorry for ourselves.

"I accept the clock is ticking but I don't buy that this will define how the World Cup will go."

England's home World Cup campaign begins against Fiji at Twickenham in September next year.

The mood of positivity - built on just one defeat in this year's Six Nations - has however been dampened by a run of five consecutive defeats for the first time since 2006, albeit four of them against world champions New Zealand.

England succumbed to seven straight defeats under Andy Robinson in 2006, before he resigned in the November.

But despite the worrying form, Lancaster says talk of a crisis is wide of the mark.

"I don't buy that at all," said the 45-year-old, appointed in 2012. "I think a team is in crisis when there is disharmony internally in the camp [and] there's a lack of direction in where you are going, and I don't see any of that.

Andy Robinson
Andy Robinson (left) suffered seven straight defeats as England boss in 2006 before resigning

"You always want to win - that's the best way to remove pressure. The true mark of the team's character now will be tested."

Lancaster has been boosted by the return to fitness of Northampton centre Luther Burrell for Saturday's Samoa game.

Burrell, 26, missed England's defeats by New Zealand and South Africa with a hand injury but played in Northampton's 24-18 loss to Exeter last weekend.

Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni also missed the 31-28 defeat by the Springboks and has not recovered from a thigh injury but his domestic team-mate Kyle Eastmond could return.

Eastmond suffered concussion towards the end of Saturday's defeat and will undergo the Graduated Return To Play protocol in hope of playing against the South Sea Islanders.