England forwards coach Matt Proudfoot will have his pack fired up for Saturday’s collision with Wales as he looks to settle his own score in Cardiff.
The champions face a pivotal moment in the Guinness Six Nations when they head to the Principality Stadium, knowing a second defeat of the tournament would effectively end their title defence.
Only Wales and France can still win the Grand Slam and, after a wretched 2020 when they went on a six-Test losing run, Wayne Pivac’s team have been rejuvenated by victories over Ireland and Scotland.
Proudfoot’s aim of a successful trip across the Severn Bridge is given added gravity by his poor record in Cardiff when acting as South Africa’s forwards coach from 2016-19.
“What more do you say about Alun Wyn Jones? And Justin Tipuric is an exceptional rugby player,” Proudfoot said.
“We understand the challenge. I have coached for four years against Wales and never beaten them, so I understand how tough they are up front.
“With South Africa we went there four times and lost four times, so that’s something that sits in the back of my head.
“I know how well our pack has got to play and how intense they have got to be in the collision area to keep our foot in the competition against Wales.”
England have adjusted their approach in training as they look to crank up the ferocity levels against Wales, knowing an improvement on the opening rounds against Scotland and Italy is essential. The plan is to dominate from the start.
“I think that is definitely the mindset we have created in training. It’s definitely the mindset the players have shown throughout the week, so I expect them to bring that,” Proudfoot said.
“That is something English packs are known for and I’m sure that’s what we will be bringing this week.
“We improved a bit from the Scottish game to the Italian game, but our competitiveness will need to improve.
“Structurally we were better, I just think competitively we will need to improve to take on the intensity and the challenge that the Welsh side will bring us.”
Bath prop Will Stuart knows Wales will be determined adversaries eager to gain bragging rights in an age-old rivalry but insists England are ready.
“There’s always a lot of chat about the history before Wales,” said Stuart, who is set to continue on the bench as cover for first-choice tighthead Kyle Sinckler.
“This will be my first time playing at the Principality Stadium. It’s always been on my bucket list to play there.
“I know it will be a different beast to when there are 80,000 Welsh fans there at full voice, but it’s exciting to go against a team who are starting to play well.
“Since the Autumn Nations Cup, Wales have strung together some better performances.
“The Welsh always raise their game against England, as do Scotland and Ireland. That’s massively motivating for us.”