Lawrence Dallaglio says England must make a priority of beating South Africa and turning Twickenham into a fortress ahead of the World Cup.
The Red Rose legend issued his twin challenge as Stuart Lancaster claimed to already know 80 per cent of his squad for next year’s tournament.
England boss Lancaster also revealed the “pain of losing” which he admits “drives” a squad that has yet to win a Six Nations title.
Dallaglio believes that winning silverware in the 339 days before the World Cup kicks off in England is not the be-all and end-all.
But he said: “What England’s priority has to be is winning as many, if not all, their games at home because, come the World Cup, if they win every game at Twickenham they win the tournament.”
England, who name their squad a week tomorrow, face four autumn Tests at Headquarters – including matches against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia – and three at home in the Six Nations.
Of those, Dallaglio insists the most important is next month’s clash with the Springboks, recent conquerors of the world champion All Blacks.
“Going into a World Cup you want to know in the back of your head that you can beat every side,” he said. “And South Africa is the only side England haven’t beaten under Stuart.
“In fact the last time they played them at Twickenham they got properly beaten up. So this is a fascinating fixture.
“If England can come away with two out of three southern hemisphere victories, that would show me that they are genuine World Cup contenders.”
Lancaster insists his squad’s aim is to win every game as anything else would be an admission that they are happy to lose one, “which is not the mindset we want”.
He added: “We know we’ve been close, we’ve won some big games, but equally we’ve not nailed some as well, so we need to be better at that final hurdle.
“We’d like to have won something and it is really frustrating for all of us that we haven’t. The pain of losing certainly drives us.”
England’s autumn internationals
Nov 8: England v New Zealand
Nov 15: England v South Africa
Nov 22: England v Samoa
Nov 29: England v Australia