Six Nations 2014: We are an exceptional team, says Courtney Lawes

England lock confident that Robshaw's men can defeat more experienced Wales and claim first Triple Crown in 11 years

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The Independent Online

Courtney Lawes believes England are "an exceptional team" who are ready to end an 11-year wait for a Triple Crown by beating Wales at Twickenham today.

The Welsh come to London as reigning Six Nations champions, with this year's title still up for grabs for both countries as well as Ireland and France, who had wins over Italy and Scotland respectively yesterday. Wales have recent history on their side, having won their previous three meetings with England, and there is a huge disparity in international experience, with almost double the number of caps in the visitors' starting line-up compared with their hosts.

But Chris Robshaw's men have done better against top southern-hemisphere opposition in recent years, and England stand fourth in the world rankings, two places above Wales.

The Northampton lock Lawes said: "I think we are an exceptional team – the boys on the bench and the ones out on the pitch ready to go. We're all young but at the same time we've been through a lot together."

Warren Gatland, the Wales head coach, said: "All the talk is that the [England] boys have turned into men, that they have learnt some pretty harsh lessons from last year, that they have grown up. We'll see on Sunday."

Rugby Football Union officials revealed they would not increase security for England's recently introduced "walk-in" from their bus through the Twickenham car park, despite Lawes predicting a barrage of barracking from Welsh supporters. "I imagine that we're going to get a bit of stick," he said.

After losing heavily to Ireland in between home wins over Italy and France, the Welsh have picked a tried and tested starting line-up, including 12 Lions from last summer's tour in Australia, in stark contrast to the England XV, none of whom has ever started a Lions Test.

But Chris Robshaw's men are odds-on favourites with the bookmakers, having recovered from losing their opening Championship match in France on 1 February to defeat Scotland and Ireland.

They will complete England's first Triple Crown since Martin Johnson's team in 2003 if they overcome Wales.The overall Six Nations title will then come down to the final round of matches next weekend, when England face Italy in Rome's Olympic Stadium while Wales host Scotland and the Irish go to France.

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