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Back: Six Nations loss a blessing

Neil Back believes England will ultimately benefit from missing out on the 2014 Six Nations title, but warns only the Grand Slam is acceptable next year.

Points difference alone sabotaged Red Rose hopes of claiming the first Championship crown of Stuart Lancaster's reign with Ireland's success resulting in a third consecutive runners-up finish.

World Cup winner Back, England's openside flanker between 1994-2003, is encouraged by the progress made during the Six Nations and views the failure to win the title as a blessing.

But with the 2015 World Cup on home soil looming, the 45-year-old insists England must crush their European rivals next year if they are to be considered genuine contenders for sport's greatest prize.


"Perversely, not winning the Six Nations may have been a good thing because it means the hunger is still there," Back said.

"Sometimes when a young team wins things they can start to gravitate, but this team is still very well grounded. Not winning the Six Nations will have made them even hungrier for next year, and that's the important one because it's a World Cup year.

"It's crucial that England win next season's Six Nations and the Grand Slam too to take them into the World Cup.

"If you want to win the World Cup you must win seven matches and if you can't defeat Six Nations teams ranked below, then we'll have a problem winning the World Cup.

"This is a really exciting time and I'm genuinely excited about this England team for the first time since I was last involved."