Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Rowntree: Atmosphere can spur us on

Graham Rowntree wants England to savour the Millennium Stadium
Graham Rowntree wants England to savour the Millennium Stadium

Graham Rowntree wants England's Grand Slam-chasing players to use the renowned Millennium Stadium atmosphere as "a positive" when they go for RBS 6 Nations title glory on Saturday.

The roof will be closed for a championship decider between two of world rugby's fiercest rivals, guaranteeing an occasion to savour. And even though it will be a new experience for several of the England line-up - captain Chris Robshaw included - forwards coach Rowntree believes it is something the players can feed off.

"Ultimately, this young group of players have got to learn to cope with these challenges of playing away from home," he said, as rain lashed England's Cardiff Bay hotel on Friday. "That's why you play the game, to play away in an atmosphere like the Millennium Stadium. I have played there a few times and it is a cracking atmosphere."

He added: "But our lads have enough to worry about with their own jobs and the opposition. We don't need to worry about the atmosphere. In fact, they can use that as a positive."

For his part, Robshaw is relishing the occasion that awaits an England team looking to end a 10-year wait since last tasting Grand Slam success.

"People always talk about the stadium as one of the best stadiums to go out and play rugby in," he said.

"We are under no illusions over how loud it will be and how important it is to prepare, to be in the right mindset for it. The crowd are going to be passionate - English and Welsh fans. We have quite a few friends and family coming to support us and a lot of supporters are coming over, so we are going to hopefully put on a good show for them."

England, the only unbeaten team in this season's Six Nations, will tackle a Wales side buoyant following three successive away victories.

There is also the prospect of England leaving Cardiff with nothing - neither the title nor the Grand Slam - if Wales triumph by a seven-point margin or more.

"We have not spoken too much about previous form," Robshaw added. "We have looked at the last couple of games to try and identify any strengths and weaknesses, as they will have done for us, and make something of it. But form goes out the window in games like this. Both sides will be wanting to go out there and start well to build momentum."

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