31 January 2006
England head coach Andy Robinson today described the RBS Six Nations opener against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday February 4 as his side's biggest game since the 2003 World Cup final.
Wales go into the match as defending Six Nations champions having completed a Grand Slam last year which included an injury-time victory over England in Cardiff.
" I think that it's the biggest game for England since the 2003 World Cup final," said Robinson at a press conference at England's training base at the Pennyhill Park Hotel in Surrey.
"Both sides will be looking to get a winning start. We respect Wales, we feel that they are well-coached and they are coming here full of belief having won the Six Nations last year.
"They were asked a few questions in the autumn internationals but those games were also a barometer for us.
"This game is a challenge for us. It's our first game back after more than two months and it's important that we get the systems right early and find our rhythm and grow from it.
"This game is about winning and the side we have picked is a team that can beat Wales at the weekend.
"There is no doubt that this Saturday will not be for the faint-hearted. On the pitch it will be real battle but it's vital that we get a winning start.
"If we can beat Wales then we can move on and plan for Italy but the Six Nations is all about gaining momentum."
Robinson also urged England supporters to get behind the side to create the sort of atmosphere his players enjoyed for the autumn internationals against Australia, New Zealand and Samoa.
"I think there's a great atmosphere at Twickenham, as has been shown over the last six months," he said.
"The crowd really got behind us in the autumn internationals and the atmosphere was superb."
As well as preparing for Saturday's big game at Twickenham, Robinson will be in close contact with Jon Callard and John Wells, who are in charge of the England A team against Italy in Colleferro near Rome on Friday.
"There are a number of players who are pushing for places in the senior team," Robinson said.
"I am putting quite a bit of store in the A team and it's good that we have got these fixtures.
"It's an important stepping stone, they will be well led by John Wells and Jon Callard and if they play well they will put pressure on the starting 15."