Toby Flood: Time to prove we can swim with the really big fish
Inside the Camp
Saturday 19 June 2010
The England squad survived shark diving on Wednesday, now we have got to find a way of dealing with the Australians in Sydney today and making up for the disappointment of last weekend.
We came face to face with three-metre long jagged teeth sharks in Manly Aquarium which was an amazing experience and actually rounded off a pretty good week on the training field.
We have got last Saturday out of our system. We didn't give a good account of ourselves and on Monday and Tuesday had a good set of meetings and reviews to sort out what went wrong. When a game is reviewed anyone can have a say. The coaches and senior players talk the most, but giving everyone the opportunity to stand up and voice their opinion is something that Martin Johnson encourages. He wants everyone to have the freedom to talk – to foster an atmosphere that everybody is in this together.
In Perth we did not work together – backs and forwards – as a cohesive unit and became too narrow minded, one-track minded in fact. It began badly as we let them dictate the early play. They had all the early momentum and possession and we were missing tackles and making mistakes. If you are attacking non-stop for the first 30 or so minutes as they were, it feels great. If you are defending – as we were – it feels like an age. It was tougher.
Matt Giteau's return for Australia just adds more strength to their backline. It is an excellent line-up but having said that I really don't think there is a cultural difference in the way we play in the UK and the way they play down here. It is more down to circumstances.
Rugby is a winter game – winter down here in Sydney is blue skies and warm days. Winter at home is wet, cold and windy. Playing in sleet and snow does not encourage free-flowing rugby by any stretch of the imagination. At the end of the season back home, when the grounds get harder, there is more running rugby. Perhaps it is more conditions than culture.
But in Sydney today we will not shy away from our advantage up front because of what happened last week. This is international rugby – if you have an advantage you use it, you would be foolish not to, but we need to be smarter in the way we play, and we have to get some good early ball unlike the first Test.
It was so disappointing in Perth because we do have a chance of winning over here. It really hurt, both personally and as a team, that we did not perform. The team did not get into a rhythm until too late, and neither did I. I felt that there was a lot more I could have done. As the No 10 you are aware of your responsibilities and the expectation that surrounds the position, but tomorrow will be my 31st cap so I am accustomed to it by now.
Johnno is also well used to all of this and, as a player, he gives you no idea of any pressure he may be under. He could carry the weight of the world on his shoulders and not let on. He has not changed one bit in training.
Ben Youngs, my room-mate and club-mate, deserves his chance at No 9. He was our player of the season at Leicester and had a great year. We know each other inside out and I know how he is going to behave on the pitch. He will not be affected by nerves at all. He's been a pretty good room-mate too – doesn't stay up too late, and doesn't snore!
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