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
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue