England assistant coach Andy Farrell has insisted the side are in a “great place” as they prepare to face world champions New Zealand on the back of defeats by Australia and South Africa.
Saturday’s 16-15 loss to the Springboks followed the previous week’s 20-14 reverse against the Wallabies and left England still looking for a first win against one of the old Tri-Nations under coach Stuart Lancaster.
The omens for England as they return to Twickenham to complete their European autumn campaign are not encouraging.
New Zealand, following their 33-10 win over Wales in Cardiff last weekend, are on a 20-match unbeaten run and the All Blacks have won their last nine Tests against England.
“They are in a great place. They have played against two very good teams and the reality of the South Africa game was that we were the best team”
Yet Farrell was adamant on Tuesday that England were the better team against the Springboks, having certainly more than matched South Africa up front.
“I have said absolutely nothing (to lift the players),” Farrell said.
“They are in a great place. They have played against two very good teams and the reality of the South Africa game was that we were the best team.
“You can’t not be in a good place when you review the game in its entirety.
“There were a couple of places we would like to improve but in the (wet) conditions and in the circumstances we were taking the game to a side who were in good form and had won games recently at a canter.
“We were piling on the pressure and making inroads. Of course there were errors because of the conditions but they made errors too. We were pushing right to the end.”
Former dual code international Farrell said: “You play like that against the second best team in the world and you almost win. Sometimes you win these tight games, sometimes you lose them.
“If we produce the same intensity and the same intent you would like to think you will be in any type of Test match.”