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Stuart Lancaster gets his message across to England players: We can win the cup

Published 14/09/2015

Courtney Lawes will partner Geoff Parling in the second row for England's Rugby World Cup opener against Fiji.
Courtney Lawes will partner Geoff Parling in the second row for England's Rugby World Cup opener against Fiji.

England will enter the World Cup empowered by an emotional presentation from head coach Stuart Lancaster that has instilled the conviction they will be crowned global champions.

The hosts launch their quest for the Webb Ellis Cup against Fiji at Twickenham on Friday, naming an unchanged starting XV following the 21-13 victory over Ireland nine days ago.

The only adjustment to the 23 sees hooker Rob Webber replace Jamie George on the grounds of his superior international experience and scrummaging, while rugby league convert Sam Burgess continues to play the role of impact replacement.

Lancaster addressed his squad at their Surrey training camp on Sunday night, using a video to help strike the right chord for a career-defining event.

"Basically all I was doing was articulating my belief and trying to build their belief that they can go on and win the tournament. Not in an arrogant way, but in a positive way," Lancaster said.

"Why would we do all the work and get here and then think 'can we, can't we?' We've just got to believe we can. It was about building belief."

Brad Barritt, England's defensive general, found the presentation particularly poignant given an injury-troubled international career that most recently saw him miss the RBS 6 Nations and the two warm-up matches against France.

"It was a fantastic meeting, quite moving for every player. Everyone left feeling a bigger part of something special and feeling really honoured to be a part of this ride," Barritt said.

"Both the video and the way Stuart spoke was hugely emotive. I have no doubt it will resonate throughout the squad.

"The video showcased a young player coming through the ranks, dreaming of playing for England and playing in a home World Cup."

All but one of the hosts' matches will be played at Twickenham and Lancaster believes the reassuring surroundings for their assault on the Webb Ellis Cup, combined with a willingness to embrace their Englishness, will be critical over the coming weeks.

"We want to maximise home advantage. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a World Cup at home in England," Lancaster said.

"The energy a crowd can give the team is huge and it makes it doubly difficult for the opposition. The energy can feel that the country is behind them.

"It has to be an extra level of motivation. We are not as front foot as we should be in our pride at being English.

"We must sell the message to the players of what's to come and just to go and experience the time of their lives."

Lancaster expects the atmosphere at Twickenham at kick-off on Friday to be at "fever pitch".

"We have challenges in this game like Fiji do. The opening ceremony takes place when normally we'd be on the field doing our individual warm-ups so that'll feel different to the players, so we've talked about that," he said.

"And knowing how the opening ceremony will unfold - by the time 8pm comes around, it'll be at fever pitch. We won't need any ramping up on the day of the game, we'll need to calm it down."

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