Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Lancaster issues fan rallying call

Stuart Lancaster has urged Twickenham to will England to victory on Saturday evening as he prepares to order his RBS 6 Nations title hopefuls to carry the game to France.

Lancaster believes the noisy support of a sold-out 82,000 home crowd will have a critical role to play in edging rivals Ireland and Wales for Championship glory on a nerve-jangling final day of staggered kick-offs.

England are favourites to lift a first piece of silverware under Lancaster and their head coach refuses to view the match through the prism of the looming World Cup on these shores.

"It will be hugely important that the crowd get behind the team," Lancaster said.

"If there's ever a day when we need the crowd to push us over the line and give us the momentum we need then it's Saturday.

"Whether we just need to get the win or win by 10 points or whatever it might take, the crowd will have a huge part to play.

"This game is not about the World Cup, it's about winning the Championship. And that's all it's about. It's about Saturday night only.

"Our mindset is to go and win the game. We can't play just to hang in there. We have to have a front foot mentality and have an intensity and tempo to our game from the first minute."

England enter the final round of matches with a points cushion of plus four and having digested earlier results from Wales' trip to Italy and Ireland's visit to Edinburgh, their victory target against France will be made clear.

The scheduling appears to have favoured England, but Lancaster insists providing the climax to the tournament creates its own challenges.

"I don't think we can be seen as favourites. I don't think anyone can. It will play out on the day," Lancaster said.

"Whether the staggered kick-offs help us depends on what the other scores are.

"If we have to win by 20, psychologically if you concede seven points in the first five minutes and then a penalty, you then have to score 30.

"Psychologically it's an interesting dynamic for the players to manage. The danger is that sometimes you can want to chase the game too early rather than build the score.

"It's an 80-minute game. Knowing that is one thing, but dealing with everything that's around it puts incredible pressure on the players.

"On the staggered kick-off times, we all know the rules when we start. It makes it exciting."

Lancaster has made one change to the starting XV, promoting lock Geoff Parling at the expense of Dave Attwood, who drops out of the 23 altogether, with Nick Easter recalled to the bench.

Attwood has started all four matches of the tournament but misses out on the final instalment with Lancaster believing the street-wise Easter is a better option to reinforce the final push for silverware.

"When you boil it down, it's the experience that Geoff brings. He didn't go on the Lions tour by accident, he's a high quality player," Lancaster said.

"Dave is a very good player who has lots of qualities, but Nick will make a stronger impact from the bench and that's why the decision was made.

"Dave understood the decision. There were performance reasons as well. It wasn't just done because of Geoff. There are areas of Dave's game we've been asking him to improve on.

"It was a difficult conversation but ultimately done on a performance point of view. Dave accepted it and knows the areas he has to work on."

England have finished runners=up for the last three years running with points difference alone deciding the 2013 and 2014 tournaments.

When asked if he was fed up at finishing second, Lancaster said: "Yes! It would be nice to win this time."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph