- Interim Head Coach believes inner confidence and belief as important as experience
- Oppositions see England as the team they “want to beat” - Lancaster
Instilling confidence and self-belief in his young players has been key for Stuart Lancaster as his side prepare to face a France team with more caps on their starting bench than in England’s starting XV.
England’s interim Head Coach believes confidence and team belief are as important as experience in what he says will be a “physically demanding” match against Philippe Saint-Andre’s France.
Speaking to RFUtv after naming an unchanged starting line-up to the one narrowly beaten by Wales at Twickenham, Lancaster said the game on Sunday would be a big challenge for his young charges.
“There are very few teams who go to the Stade de France and win,” he said. “You look at the experience in their side with over 600 caps in their starting 15 – they have got more caps on their bench than our starting 15 to be honest.
“They are a very mature side – they have played together a lot, they are World Cup finalists and they are playing at home and I think most international sides would say that win at France would be one of the biggest challenges and the biggest achievements. We recognise that it is a massive game – physically demanding against a very experienced side so it will be a big challenge but a great opportunity as well.”
Discussing whether England’s relative lack of experience could work in their favour with players not bearing the scars of previous encounters, Lancaster was keen to stress the importance of giving players positive feedback.
He explained: “It’s an interesting one the experience one. Clearly experience is important in my mind and obviously the path we have taken and the route which we’ve taken right from the start of the selection was to give a young group of players who we believe have got a long term future for England experience and this is part of that journey.
“So undoubtedly the players will be learning a lot and will be better for the experience as we go through every game but clearly this is one will be a big one.
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“But also, as important as experience is self-belief and inner confidence. So that’s inner confidence in the individuals and we have tried to fill them full of that and show them repeated clips of them training and things that we are doing well and building on the positives.
“And also team belief; so belief in our set piece, belief in our defensive systems, belief in how we are trying to attack and that’s a strong force, self-belief and team belief, and I think obviously that is what we are building and building on and obviously experience comes with that as part of the journey.”
Lancaster also called on English fans in Paris to get behind the players and added: “I think when you are English, I think you tend to find the opposition that you see it as their big game – it doesn’t matter if it is England Scotland, England Wales or England France. I think the opposition when you’re playing England see England as the team they want to beat.
“So there is a big rivalry but I don’t think it is an unhealthy one. I think that is what makes the Six Nations special.”