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Lancaster plans to put on a show


England head coach Stuart Lancaster is hoping for a classic when Ireland visit Twickenham in the next round of the RBS 6 Nations

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is hoping for a classic when Ireland visit Twickenham in the next round of the RBS 6 Nations

England head coach Stuart Lancaster is hoping for a classic when Ireland visit Twickenham in the next round of the RBS 6 Nations

Stuart Lancaster insists England intend continuing the resurrection of their RBS 6 Nations title assault by bringing Twickenham to its feet for the visit of Ireland.

Now that successive trips to Paris and Edinburgh have been negotiated, the next two rounds will unfold amid the reassuring surroundings of their London stronghold.

First up are unbeaten Ireland, who issued a clear statement of intent in crushing Wales 26-3, before Warren Gatland's champions arrive a fortnight later.

Having lost narrowly to France and routing Scotland 20-0 on Saturday, there is no margin for error if England are to remain in title contention.

Lancaster has braced Twickenham for a Six Nations classic against the Irish and hopes to reward home fans with a decisive victory.

"Playing the next two games at home is massive for us. We've trained at Twickenham more now recently which has helped," Lancaster said.

"The way the crowd has got behind us in the last few games has been huge, certainly in the autumn internationals.

"We owe them a decent performance because they're definitely backing us.

"Ireland are a very good attacking side. Joe Schmidt has brought Leinster's cohesion to the national team. Defensively they are going to challenge us.

"They caused Wales a lot of problems with their mauling in that second half, so we will have to be on our mettle up front.

"But we have got threats of our own as well. They should be looking at us and thinking 'This is going to be a good old game'."

England would still be chasing the Grand Slam themselves had their defence not been outwitted by Gael Fickou's late try in Paris, but comfort has since been drawn from the efficiency displayed at Murrayfield.

More tries should have been added to the two scored by Luther Burrell and Mike Brown, but it was otherwise an accomplished display that was hard to fault.

"Overall we made a statement in this game, yes. In parts we played really well in very difficult conditions," said Lancaster, in reference to the mudbath of a pitch at Murrayfield.

"I actually thought we made a statement against France last weekend and we were disappointed not to have won.

"I'm pleased that we've had a good win and that can take us into two massive home games.

"Playing at Twickenham is a big deal for us, so it's good to win now, to take us into the next game with confidence.

"I think points difference might come into the Championship equation now. If Ireland beat us obviously it's theirs to win."

If England's threequarter line continue to perform well, Lancaster will face a selection conundrum when Manu Tuilagi recovers from his chest injury.

Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees have formed a promising centre partnership and it would be harsh to dislodge either Jack Nowell or Jonny May from the wings to accommodate Tuilagi's return.

"I suspect that Manu might run out of time for this Six Nations," Lancaster said.

"I'm not saying he will, but the reality is if he doesn't return until the start of March, he's going to run out of time. We'll wait and see.

"There's the second half of the season to go and the New Zealand tour when we could look at it, but without a doubt Billy and Luther have played well and deserve to keep their places.

"Jonny has definitely got that X factor. He's shown it in training too. The more you work with him the more you appreciate how dangerous a runner he is.

"But you also see how bright he is as a rugby player. You only have to say something once and he picks it up very quickly.

"But also I thought Jack Nowell was exceptional against Scotland. It was virtually an error-free game.

"He made 14 tackles and missed none last week. As a 20-year-old lad that's pretty impressive. He's a tough little man."