Alex Corbisiero believes England can become NatWest 6 Nations champions next year, but only if Eddie Jones gets selection right.
The Red Rose lifted the trophy in 2016 and 2017 but finished fifth this year after defeats to Scotland, France and Ireland.
But Corbisiero, a former England prop, found the positives in their new-found predicament after three painful losses, saying it was an opportunity to fix the problems.
“I think it’s a good thing for English rugby but they have some areas to address,” he said.
“How they address the breakdown area, how they adapt in games when things aren’t going their way.
“If they are able to steer those corners, get a good run in South Africa, get a good run in the autumn, then English rugby has a chance to bounce back.
“But this is a big blow – from first to fifth, and from back-to-back wins to fifth – that’s a tough one to swallow.”
Corbisiero, who left Northampton Saints in 2016 after being plagued by injuries, suggested the crux of England’s problems lay in their attacking options.
“They have to get selection right,” he said. “They thought they had selection right with that Ford-Farrell axis but it was exposed.
“They’ve gone back to the drawing board. Eddie Jones has hinted at it, he’s looking for one. Do not be surprised if England fill that vacancy soon.
“Even if they don’t send their best team to South Africa, just more ideas, more layers to their game and going back to the drawing board, especially in attack.”