New Zealand’s shock exit from the Rugby World Cup has left the tournament there for England’s taking, according to former full-back Vicky MacQueen.
A brave Canada side drew 13-13 with England on Saturday to ensure their progression to the last four along with France and Ireland at the expense of the All Blacks.
MacQueen believes England now have a golden opportunity to win the tournament following the elimination of a New Zealand side - stunned by the Irish earlier this week - that has beaten them in the final of the last three Rugby World Cup finals.
“It’s there for the taking but now they must now go out and perform against Ireland (in Wednesday’s semi-final),” MacQueen told Sky Sports. “They won’t be underestimating them for sure having seen what Ireland can do.
“It’s going to be a massive game and it really is all to play for. England have been building towards this bit by bit and they’ll have the right game-plan in place.
“Some people will point to the mistakes they made against Canada yesterday but they want to be making these mistakes now, at this stage of the tournament. As long as they keep getting better then they will peak at the right time.
“The belief within the team is there and I think defeat in the final to New Zealand four years ago would have helped. It will have hurt but in the long run I think it’s helped them because they know exactly what it takes to build towards securing victory.
“I’m predicting an England and France final and what an amazing stage that would be. To go out and beat the home team in the final of a World Cup would be amazing.”
MacQueen, who was part of the first England squad to have ever beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand in 2001, believes head coach Gary Street has prepared England perfectly for this tournament.
“I’m really confident and so proud of this England team and I think Gary Street has got this just right because they haven’t hit their peak yet,” he said.
“He’s mixed up the players at the right time and given the right ones the opportunity to be rested. Hopefully they can now go out and show what they can do in the semi-final and then the final.
“Nobody is going to be talking about the pool matches if they go on and win the World Cup.”
Watch England take on Ireland from FFR Headquarters from 4.45pm on Wednesday on Sky Sports 4HD