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Rugby World Cup England to benefit from tough Pool A at Rugby World Cup - Phil Vickery

England's tough Rugby World Cup pool will make them "battle hardened" for the rest of the tournament, former prop Phil Vickery has argued.

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play (Omni Sports)

England's tough Rugby World Cup pool will make them "battle hardened" for the rest of the tournament, former prop Phil Vickery has argued.

The host nation has been grouped with world number three Australia and number six Wales in Pool A along with Fiji and Uruguay.

With three of the world's top six teams - England are ranked fifth - in the one group, Pool A is undoubtedly the toughest on paper but if Stuart Lancaster's men can survive on home soil, Vickery is convinced they will thrive.

Vickery was part of England's World Cup-winning squad in 2003 and he finished his international career with 78 caps, including five for the British and Irish Lions.

"The one big plus for me if they get out of that group - they're going to be battle hardened going into the quarter-finals," he told Omnisport.

"I think getting out of that group, people will then suddenly get behind them, the fans, the expectations, and if you can use those expectations, and use that enthusiasm to inspire, it's going to make a massive difference.

"If you let that expectation and that passion suppress you then it's not good news. So I think there'll be some work done on it by England but I think they're looking forward to it, the players are looking forward to it.

"It's a chance of a lifetime, what an opportunity to play in the Rugby World Cup in your home country."

Coach Lancaster named a relatively youthful 31-man squad for the World Cup on Thursday, with Sam Burgess (1 cap), Henry Slade (1), Jonathan Joseph (12) and Brad Barritt (22) making up an inexperienced group of centres.

In all, 15 of Lancaster's squad are aged 25 or younger but Vickery reckons that is irrelevant on the field.

"Well I think no-one will ever know if you're ready," the 39-year-old said.

"Ultimately I don't think age counts for a lot until things start going wrong, and generally when things go wrong they say 'they're not ready for this yet, they're too young'. I don't believe in that.

"I think if you've got the skillset, for me it's going to be about the mentality. Have they got the mentality? We don't really know, but that's something we don't really control.

"I think what Stuart has done has been really good ultimately he'll be judged on results, that's what everyone says. I'm looking forward to seeing them compete in this year's Rugby World Cup and I think Stuart Lancaster is the right man to lead England forward."

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