- England Head Coach speaks about five key areas against Scotland
- Hear about how back-row balance and what it means to beat the Auld Enemy
Before naming his 23 to face Scotland, Stuart Lancaster spoke exclusively to RFUtv about five pivotal areas that will decide the RBS 6 Nations clash against Scotland.
Selecting an unchanged team
"I think they deserve an opportunity to bounce back from that defeat. It was a disappointing result but a hugely positive performance and I am very proud of the way they worked themselves back into the game. I think they deserve another crack at it.
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"I wouldn’t say it was a luxury to name the same side – it’s a difficult decision. We’ve got some very, very good players who have gone home from the camp and are itching to get a chance. My message to them is to go and perform for their Premiership clubs – we’ll be watching. The likelihood is that they will get two games in now between now and Ireland. All selection is back on after that."
Dan Cole's durability
"His durability as a tighthead is incredible, really. His ability to defend, ball-carry, scrum and ruck for 80 "minutes has been developed at Leicester Tigers. He used to share the duties with Martin Castrogiovanni but latterly he has played for 80 minutes more and more in the Premiership.
"The more you do it at club level, the more comfortable you are in internationals. That said. Henry Thomas is working hard to push his case forward and David Wilson is nearing full fitness."
"Undoubtedly we need to play well there. I fully respect the Scottish back row. They are athletic and good players across the board. We have a balance of ball-carrying and ball-winning with three guys who work incredibly hard and another on the bench in Ben Morgan who, as you saw at the weekend, can come on and back up what Billy has done in the first 60.
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"It was an incredibly tough, physical game at the weekend – the ball was in play longer than I’ve ever known it – and for Tom Wood and Chris Robshaw to be exhausted really says something."
Jonny May’s recovery
"He’s trained well. The initial concern was not about his nose but about his cheekbone really. He got a couple of black eyes and actually trained on Monday and went really well even though it was a non-contact session.
"He was frustrated but still buzzing with enthusiasm and stayed like that all week. That enthusiasm is infectious and he’s got the respect of the players. He also has great feet, great balance and I had no hesitation in giving him another chance."
"We’ll have to start well because our start in Paris put us in a big hole. We used a lot of energy to get ourselves back from 16-3 down and once we’d done that, we ran out of juice at the end.
"A big start is important and, for me, I want to back up where we left off. We were still on the attack just before we conceded right at the end and our mindset to keep going at them will be important.
"In a former life, I played for Scotland [Under 19 and Under 21], so I know exactly what they’ll be feeling in their changing room. There is no bigger game."