Six Nations: Stuart Lancaster - Winning in Wales would make Grand Slam sweeter

Bullish England coach relishing 'cup final' in Cardiff and says experience will do young side world of good

Stuart Lancaster has made it clear to Wales that if they're anticipating much shaking in boots from England on Saturday in the Six Nations Championship decider in Cardiff, they're in for a serious disappointment. The red-rose head coach was in bullish mode, refusing to indulge the hosts with hat-doffing and showing no fear in talking up his side's Grand Slam hopes.

"To win a Grand Slam, there's no bigger place to do it than against champions Wales in Cardiff," Lancaster said. "This game is like a cup final, and our young side need to become accustomed to such huge occasions. Wales comprise some 600 caps compared to our 280-odd, but then New Zealand turned up at Twickenham in December with 700 caps, but experience didn't triumph that day.

"Experience is not the only factor needed to win big games. If that was the case we'd have never beaten New Zealand. It will come down to goal-kicking and taking your points when they're on offer. We're hard to beat because we're strong at the basics. Our set piece is strong, our defence is strong, but most important our attitude and desire to work for each other is strong."

Lancaster has made four changes to the team that stumbled to an 18-11 Twickenham win over Italy last weekend, recalling half-back Owen Farrell and Ben Youngs for the more experienced pairing of Toby Flood and Danny Care, while Joe Marler returns to loose-head prop, swapping a seat on the bench with Mako Vunipola, and Tom Croft takes the blind-side jersey from James Haskell.

While insisting that Flood did nothing amiss against Italy – indeed he kicked all of England's points – Lancaster believes Saracens stand-off Farrell is a special talent. "Owen possesses something rare for a lad of 21, a temperament that guarantees the bigger the game the better he responds," Lancaster said: "He made his England debut against Wales 12 months ago and has developed at an impressive rate.

"During this Six Nations, Owen has displayed excellent leadership qualities, core-skills execution, defence and organising ability under intense pressure. He never appears fazed.

"With Mako and Danny, it's not about doing anything wrong against Italy and all about how we like to balance who starts to go flat out and who comes on to make an impact. Mako and Joe are young props with tremendous qualities while Danny and Ben have similarities yet bring different dynamics at scrum-half.

"It's great to see Tom Croft back after suffering so serious a neck injury last year. He brings an added dimension to our line-out while James, who covers Nos 6, 7 and 8, brings a huge physicality to the party when he comes off the bench."

The good news for England is that locks Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling came through a serious line-out fitness test at 8.30am today, Launchbury proving that his hyper-extended elbow has recovered fully, as has the shoulder Parling injured against Italy.

Most interesting is the way Lancaster has changed the image of the bench from a form of relegation to a lethal weapon. His selections focus heavily on hammering home the 23-man team ethic, something into which his players have bought with increasing enthusiasm.

Either most or all his replacements have some game time, and it is planned way in advance – assuming injury is not a factor. It is how Lancaster and his coaches ensure that their teams finish the stronger in the final quarter.

And he is also consistent in his dual targets. "We must focus on winning and achieving in the here-and-now while developing an England squad who will be battle-hardened by the time they take on the massive pressure of being 2015 World Cup hosts," Lancaster explained.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'