Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Grand Slam part of World Cup ambitions

Stuart Lancaster has set his sights on Six Nations glory

Stuart Lancaster believes England need to go into the 2015 Rugby World Cup having tasted Grand Slam glory - and there will be no better opportunity to achieve it than against Wales in Cardiff.

Saturday's Millennium Stadium showdown will be a seismic title decider, with England chasing a first RBS 6 Nations clean sweep in a decade and Wales looking to retain their championship crown.

Everything will be on the line and for England to triumph in those circumstances, just 14 months into their development as a team, would be a staggering achievement in its own right.

Lancaster recognises it would also be a significant staging post in his four-year plan to bring the Webb Ellis Cup back to Twickenham in 2015.

"When I took over I didn't have a 2013 Grand Slam down as a target. The long-term plan is to build a team with the required experience by 2015," Lancaster said. "As part of that experience you want the players to play in a game that's akin to a final, which is basically what this game is.

"It's a brilliant experience for the players and it will certainly help us with that long-term plan. (To win a Grand Slam) would give you that inner confidence and belief that you can win in big games and finals.

"We've got other challenges coming our way - we're going to Argentina in the summer, we've got three autumn internationals, we've got the 2014 Six Nations and we've got a three-Test tour to New Zealand.

"Learning to win the southern hemisphere will be part of it as well - but the reality is that come 2015 we're going to be playing Wales in a huge pool game. The more experience you can get of playing under the pressure of these type of games the better for the players."

England have won 12 Grand Slams but they have never sealed one in Cardiff and Lancaster feels there would be no better fixture in which to create a slice of history.

"I don't think (there is a better fixture), not in the context of where we are," Lancaster said. "Both sides have got the chance to win the championship, so effectively it's a shootout. In that sense to go to Cardiff and try and win a Grand Slam is a great test."

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