Dylan Hartley insists England’s mindset following their defeat to Ireland at Twickenham is the same as it would be had they claimed a Six Nations Grand Slam.
Ireland were 24-15 victors in the London snow, sealing the Slam for themselves and extending the hosts’ alarming losing run to three matches following previous defeats to Scotland and France.
Prior to their recent downturn, Eddie Jones’ side had lost only one Test since the Australian took charge in the wake of a disastrous 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign – that defeat also coming against Ireland in Dublin last year.
Pre-tournament favourites, England finished in fifth after their worst run of Six Nations results in 12 years.
But Hartley does not believe the setback should knock England off their stride as they aim for the ultimate goal of winning next year’s World Cup in Japan.
“Even coming into this campaign, we weren’t the same team that we were in November,” said the captain.
“Selection, injuries, development – we want to kick on, we don’t want to be the same team. Whether we’re winning or losing, we want to get better.
“If we’d won the Six Nations, if we’d won the Grand Slam, we’d say we’re going to go to South Africa [in June] and we’re going to be a better team, we’re going to be a different team and we’re going to improve.
“Unfortunately we’re off the back of a loss, but I’m going to say the same thing. We’ll be a different team, we’ll keep developing, keep working.
Many congratulations @IrishRugby
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) March 17, 2018
“It keeps your feet firmly on the ground and keeps a burning hunger and desire to improve.
“We’ve experienced the highs. We’ve been on the highs of the rollercoaster and it’s bloody good fun. It’s hard work doing that.
“At the moment we’re experiencing a low and we know what it takes to get back, so we want to get back and enjoy those highs.
“When we started this journey, I think we were ranked eighth in the world and we had a rapid rise, but we earned that.
“With that comes a bit of a target on your back and everyone’s got a bit excited about playing us. Everyone’s always got excited about playing England, but other teams are getting better and we’ve got do the same.”
England will face France, Argentina, Tonga and the United States in Pool C at the 2019 World Cup.
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