Attwood refuses to the “dazzled”

Published: Sunday 1st February 2015 by The News Editor

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Dave Attwood insists England must not allow themselves to be “dazzled by the starlight” when they open their RBS 6 Nations against Wales on Friday night

The injury-ravaged 2015 World Cup hosts face a side packed full of British and Irish Lions knowing that defeat would leave them with an uphill struggle to claim a first title under Stuart Lancaster.

Two years ago they ran out at the Millennium Stadium with a precious Grand Slam just 80 minutes away, only to succumb to a chastening 30-3 defeat as they wilted under the pressure of the occasion.

Attwood, now England’s senior lock with Courtney Lawes, Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling in the treatment room, has warned of the danger of paying too much attention to reputations.

“Across the field Wales have some tremendous players,” Attwood said.

“There are a lot of guys who will stand up and be counted when their backs are against the wall. That’s the challenge we’re facing.

“We may be fresh-faced in comparison to plenty of those guys, but if you get dazzled by the starlight you get nowhere.

“You have to treat them as normal blokes who play rugby the same as you. Then it becomes a bit more of a level playing field.”

Some training sessions at Pennyhill Park have been conducted with loudspeakers set at full volume in an attempt to mimic the noisy atmosphere that England encountered in Cardiff two years ago.

It promises to be a full blooded opening to the Championship with home fans baying for Wales to claim the most prized scalp of all, but Attwood will not be feeding off that emotion.

“I find it not desperately helpful to get absorbed in the sideshow. Obviously it’s incredibly loud and passionate and every Welsh person you speak to for 30 years will talk about the outcome,” Attwood said.

“It means so much to them and particularly growing up where I did in North Bristol, close to the border, that was perhaps more evident than in a lot of other places.

“I’m well aware of it but I don’t feel it helps me get my head in the right place to play rugby.

“I know some guys get a feed off the emotional buzz you get when you’re on the bus on the way to the stadium and there are people shouting, throwing things and getting really lairy in the street.

“It’s a great spectacle for the sport, it’s unbelievably passionate and it’s what you want to see, but in terms of preparing yourself to play it’s not something I find particularly useful.

“Wales will come out with all guns blazing as they always do. I’m sure it’s going to be pretty ferocious Test match.

“It’s not going to a case of trying to weather the Welsh storm at all. We will go there with our own intensity. It’s going to be a challenge but it’s one we’re extremely keen to meet.”

Published: Sunday 1st February 2015 by The News Editor

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