‘You can’t beat Six Nations climax’

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Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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England head coach Stuart Lancaster insists only the final stage of the Ryder Cup can compare with Saturday’s climactic round of the RBS 6 Nations.

The race for the title has been reduced to three teams, with Wales and Ireland competing against the Red Rose to be crowned champions on an afternoon of three staggered kick-offs.

Favourites England will conclude the schedule knowing the points target they must hunt down against France at Twickenham to end a sequence of three successive runners-up finishes.

Lancaster believes the bi-annual golfing showpiece between Europe and the United States is the only sporting occasion that can match the drama created by the Six Nations’ refusal to synchronise the last instalment of games.

“I can’t think of another situation in sport where you’d go into it with this points differential that can affect the psychology, so it is different from a World Cup,” Lancaster said.

“The only scenario I can think of that is similar is the final day of the Ryder Cup when you’re ahead or behind when the singles are coming.

“It’s that sort of feeling. It will tell us a lot about the players, but it is a pretty unique situation as well.”

England enter the final day with a points advantage of plus four and it is in the context of how Wales and then Ireland, who travel to Rome and Edinburgh respectively, perform that Lancaster must prepare his team.

“I have thought long and hard about the psychology of how you deal with your own players,” Lancaster said.

“There are only so many players who need to be involved in the key decisions. The rest of the players have been given a simple message – you go all-out for the win and you don’t stop until 80 minutes is up.

“The key to begin with is not to chase the game too early. We have to go out there to perform and win the game, then we’ll deal with whatever circumstances come along as we go.”

Lancaster has made one change to his starting XV after promoting Geoff Parling from the bench at the expense of Dave Attwood.

Parling has called for England to stand up and be counted as they seek to claim a first title since 2011.

“These sort of games are when you probably see a team’s character,” Parling said.

“We know there is a lot of pressure on it and we shouldn’t hide away from that. We said at the start of the tournament: we have got to win it. We’ve come second for three years running.

“We messed up a bit in two games again, but we’ve got a chance here to put things right and win it.

“These are the games you want to play in, the games you want to show your character as a player, as a pack, as a team.”

Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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