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

 



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
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003