Lancaster confident ahead of opener


Published: Thursday 5th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Stuart Lancaster has welcomed a mouth-watering start to the 2015 RBS 6 Nations when England return to the setting of their record defeat by Wales for Friday night’s tournament opener.

Playing for the Grand Slam two years ago, the Red Rose endured one of the darkest days in their history when they were routed 30-3 at the Millennium Stadium as their inexperience was brutally exposed amid a hostile atmosphere.

The Millennium Stadium roof will remain open at Lancaster’s request for a match England, who have been training to the sound of ‘Hymns and Arias’ this week, start as underdogs.

“It doesn’t get any better as a set-up to the Championship,” head coach Lancaster said.

“It’s an iconic rugby stadium and an iconic fixture. The history between the two countries in rugby is huge. To kick it off on a Friday night….makes it a big game.

“The odds for Friday are irrelevant to me. We played pretty much the same Welsh team last year and we definitely believe we can go to Cardiff and win.

“We 100 per cent respect that they have many British and Irish Lions, but equally we have confidence and belief that we can do the job. If we don’t believe that, we’ll have no chance.”

Lancaster has distanced himself from talk of avenging the mauling of 2013, but concedes the result that led to calls for his team to be rebuilt still rankles even if Wales have since been toppled.

“We’ve lost other games since then and every game you lose as a national coach hurts,” Lancaster said.

“No doubt about it, that particular one hurt because of the context around it – the title and Slam were at stake. Clearly it is going to hurt.

“But that’s not the only game you go back and analyse. You go back to last year’s game – we scored two tries and played good rugby throughout.

“Of course it is in the back of your minds, but there’s been a lot of rugby played since then. The context of this particular game and two years ago is completely different.

“In 2013 we came into the game on the back of a Sunday game, Wales played Saturday. We didn’t train much that week and before you knew it we were in Cardiff and playing. The points differential was a factor and the psychological element too.

“Since losing to France in the first game of last year’s Championship, we’ve developed as a team.

“We’ve had some wins and losses and went on to have a great Six Nations after the France game. We have always learned lessons as we have gone along.

“Every team should be older and wiser if you stick with a similar group of players and while we have had injuries and had to make changes, a lot of the guys have been in camp a long time.”

The clearest indication of the tactics England will use at the Millennium Stadium has been provided by attacking skills coach Mike Catt, who acknowledged that the autumn win over Australia will set the framework.

Having being exposed by New Zealand and South Africa, a simplified gameplan centred on forward strength saw the Wallabies faced down 26-17.

“We learnt a hell of a lot from the autumn, as a team and how the game needs to be played, what our strengths are and what our identity is. Against Australia, it was pretty clear to see what our strengths are,” Catt said.

“We have tried to find a balance between tightening everything up to then going too expansive, so now we need to try and get a happy medium.

“That takes times to do but I’d like to think with that Australia game we found a good balance between the two.

“The set piece is something England have always prided themselves on so let’s not go away from what we are extremely good at.”

Published: Thursday 5th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search