Lancaster considers small changes


Published: Monday 16th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Stuart Lancaster is considering making only minor adjustments to his team as England seek a triumphant conclusion to their 2015 RBS 6 Nations campaign.

Replacement tight five forwards Tom Youngs and Geoff Parling, who appeared in the second half of Saturday’s 25-13 victory over Scotland, are pressing hard for promotion to the starting XV against France.

Lancaster will whittle down his extended training squad to a matchday 23 on Tuesday night and is keen to keep changes to a minimum out of the belief England have improved throughout the Six Nations.

Ireland and Wales are also competing for a title that is set to be decided by points difference, but the likely need to amass tries will not influence the head coach’s thinking.

“We’ve used 29 players so far and that consistency of selection has helped, but there are certainly one or two people from the bench who are putting their hands up,” Lancaster said.

“Geoff Parling and Tom Youngs did well. In fact the whole bench made an impact. Kieran Brookes was excellent.

“We’ve not made too many changes during the course of this championship because I think the team’s been getting better.

“Our try scoring record (11) is almost double everyone else’s (Italy are second with six tries). By and large we’ve got the right personnel.

“There might be one or two tweaks, but there won’t be wholesale changes.”

Wales open a day of three staggered kick offs when they face Italy in Rome before attention turns to Edinburgh where Ireland will launch their last attempt at defending their title.

The schedule means England will then know exactly what they must do against France to end a sequence of three successive runners-up finishes, but Lancaster insists that their priority must simply be winning the game.

“The key decision-makers will be aware what the permutations are and they will make decisions as the game unfolds,” Lancaster said

“In terms of the scoreline, if we start obsessing about that then we’re not going to win the game – that’s the long and short of it.

“We want to get the crowd behind us. We want to play some decent rugby and we want to have a nice dry day.

“I know exactly what France can do. The only defeat we had last year was by France and that will burn in my mind more than anything else. I will be reminding the players about that.”

The 5pm kick off at Twickenham presents its own challenges as England’s squad whittle down the hours in anticipation of one of the biggest matches of their careers and Lancaster has his own way of dealing with the pressure.

“I just go on long walks. As a coach you are aware of the messages that you give because the players will intuitively feed off your mood and what you are saying,” he said.

“There is a well-trodden path around Virginia Water. I have done about 25 laps of that during the Six Nations. That is how I relax.”

Published: Monday 16th March 2015 by The News Editor

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