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Lancaster rejects Ferris accusation

ENGLAND'S interim coach Stuart Lancaster dismissed Irish claims that his side are "arrogant" and "bad losers" ahead of tomorrow's RBS 6 Nations showdown at Twickenham.

The accusation came from Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris and is not the first pre-match verbal grenade of its kind to be lobbed towards the England camp this championship.

Lancaster dealt with the first, from Scotland coach Andy Robinson, by declaring his new-look team would be built on a pride and respect for the jersey they represent.

Ferris' claim appears out of kilter with the public perception of Lancaster's team, who have successfully rebuilt the reputation of English rugby that was so badly damaged during the World Cup.

The public relations disaster that was the Rugby World Cup now seems aeons ago. The culture of some players mocking those who tried too hard in training has been replaced by a common drive for excellence.

Lancaster has also delivered results and England tackle Ireland tomorrow on the back of a remarkable 24-22 triumph over France in Paris.

"Before the Scotland game I said I would be disappointed if, come the end of the Six Nations, the English side was going to be labelled as arrogant," Lancaster said.

"Our performance on and off the field have reflected a team that is focused, determined and proud to play for their country.

"It goes back to the same mantra of believing what is inside the room, the self belief and the team belief, as opposed to listening to people outside.

"As a coach you are always looking for signs of complacency or under-confidence.

"You are constantly trying to look to see where the mood of the camp is, and adjust your behaviour as a coach to get them in the right place.

"With this group I have never had to do it because the players have always been at the right place."

It is for that reason Lancaster is convinced England are gearing up for one final Six Nations effort, in what could be his final match in charge of the national team.

The Rugby Football Union are currently weighing up Lancaster's bid to lead England into the 2015 World Cup with that, it is thought, of the more experienced former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett.

"You can just tell from the body language and demeanour of the players there was no feeling of 'job done' after the France game and they will give their all for the team on Saturday," Lancaster said.

"We are definitely heading in the right direction.

"Irrespective of what happens to the coaching team they can see that the tour of South Africa is coming around the corner.

"The players have bought into the journey.

"We are very excited to be playing back at Twickenham, in front of our home fans and against a high quality Ireland side, who are probably unlucky not to be going for a Grand Slam when you look at their results.

"It's going to be a great occasion and we are all looking forward to it."