Tom Croft says the England squad are enjoying life under Stuart Lancaster and his coaching team.
By Chris Burton
Last Updated: 24/02/12 4:34pm
Tom Croft says the England squad are enjoying life under Stuart Lancaster and his coaching team, with the players as united now as they have ever been.
Cracks in the camp started to appear at the 2011 World Cup, with events on and off the field having conspired against England in New Zealand.
The dawn of a new era was promoted heavily ahead of this year's RBS Six Nations, with a number of fresh faces having been drafted into the playing and management team.
Lancaster heads those charged with generating results, with the RFU having handed him the reins on a caretaker basis.
It remains to be seen whether he will be offered the role full-time, but two wins from his opening two fixtures against Scotland and Italy have done his claims to the post no harm.
"I think they have influenced the side and done very well," Croft told Sky Sports when asked to give his take on the new set-up.
"They have had two positive results and off the field, in terms of how things are around the camp, it's going very well. It's a good atmosphere to be in.
"He's not necessarily dictated how it should be, we have come together as a squad and decided how we want to conduct ourselves, how we want to play and how we want to be seen.
"The most important thing was developing a side and a culture and seeing how it turns out, rather than being told to do it."
It is vital that stability is established in the near future if England are to steer a positive course towards the 2015 World Cup, with the appointment of a permanent coach and the selection of a settled side top priorities.
"It's important to start building those foundations now," said Leicester flanker Croft.
"We don't want to be thinking about bringing in new players and trying to piece together a team a year before a World Cup. We need to start building that now.
"Wins will help us to do that along the way, but it's about creating a side and making sure you have the right things in place now rather than thinking about it in two or three years' time."
He added: "We will try to win every game along the way. It's not only about building towards 2015, though, it's about developing a side to make sure that it's winning along the way.
"We are fully aware that you are very unlikely to win every game in the next four years, but we will try our hardest to get there."
The idea is that the team being pieced together now will be ready to stake a claim for global glory on home soil in 2015, with young blood having been injected into what was an ageing squad.
The likes of Owen Farrell, Charlie Sharples and Ben Morgan have been offered an opportunity to impress with one eye on the future, while all of those handed their first taste of international rugby have slipped seamlessly into the fold.
"All the new caps have settled in like they have been playing international rugby for years," said Croft.
"The pride and enthusiasm they have brought to the camp has been very positive for us at the moment."
Tom Croft is an ambassador for SSE. To check out Tom going head to head against Wales' second row star Ryan Jones in a series of three video challenges, head to www.sserugby.com and see who wins!