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England inspired by Olympic show

Usain Bolt is an inspiration for England's rugby players as the Rugby World Cup hosts bid to thrive on partisan support similar to that generated for London 2012 this autumn.

England captain Chris Robshaw saw Bolt's 200metres win at the Olympics three years ago, a victory which was preceded minutes earlier by David Rudisha's astonishing 800m success, and liked what he saw.

"What those guys showed, and it's a mentality hopefully we can have, you've just got to go for it," Robshaw said.

"You've got to not look back after the tournament and say 'we could've done this, we should've done that'.

"Go out there, enjoy it, make the most of this occasion and hopefully do as well as possible."

Comparisons are being made between the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the World Cup, which kicks off on September 18 when England play Fiji at Twickenham.

Robshaw, who confesses to not be the biggest Olympic sport fanatic, hopes to convert everyone in the country into rugby supporters.

"I'm not hugely into my athletics and some of the things I went to see, but you get caught up in it," added Robshaw, who also saw the road cycling events pass through his hometown of Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey.

"You walked around the Olympic Park and you could feel the excitement, just how happy everyone was to be there, the passion of it.

"We want to bring the people who are potentially huge rugby fans, get them involved.

"The beauty of it is there's games all over the country."

Being hosts is far from a burden for Robshaw, who says he has spoken to sports people from various fields who are "jealous" of the opportunity to play in a home World Cup.

"It's a bonus, for sure," he added.

"People ask 'is it pressure?' No, we've got to put that pressure on other teams.

"Other teams come here playing in front of 60 million people cheering us on and we've got to use that to our advantage."

England won the 2003 tournament, but exited the last at the quarter-final stage four years ago in New Zealand as the All Blacks won on home soil.

Robshaw was overlooked for the squad for the 2011 tournament, which was a shambles for England and marred by off-field issues.

There have been distractions this time, too.

Leicester centre Manu Tuilagi and Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley will not be considered by England head coach Stuart Lancaster for off and on-field indiscretions, while Danny Cipriani is awaiting the outcome of a police investigation after being arrested on suspicion of drink driving earlier this month.

Hartley was a member of the leadership group which supports Robshaw, who called for others to step up in the absence of more established stars.

"It's never ideal when you lose a guy of so much experience," Robshaw said.

"It's tough for Dyls, but there's a lot of guys looking for that opportunity now to step up.

"You look at someone like Tom Youngs, who has played for the Lions."

Robshaw was reluctant to dwell on the omissions or on the 2011 tournament, which the Harlequins flanker watched from afar.

He believes it is important players are allowed to switch off away from rugby in order to be mentally prepared for what follows.

"Mentally, it's about how do we make sure in two, three months' time when it starts we're ready to go," said Robshaw, who faces weeks of conditioning as England bid to be the fittest team in the tournament.

"It's about guys having that balance, going home and doing what they want to do.

"Whether it's taking the dog for a walk, playing golf, going to the beach, on holiday, just making sure that mentally you have a bit of downtime.

"Guys are responsible. Guys know what they want to achieve and they know their position and the shape and everything else they need to be in.

"This is magnified from what a lot of us have been in before, but all the guys know the situation and what we need to achieve.

"We've got eight or nine weeks before the final cut, for guys to put their hands up and really impress.

"He (Lancaster) might have the majority of his squad in mind, but there will be a lot of spaces up for grabs and it's up to guys to go and win those spots."


From Belfast Telegraph