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VIDEO EXCLUSIVE – Lancaster on five key areas

20 February 2014

  • Stuart Lancaster tells RFUtv about five pivotal areas of the game
  • Twelvetrees and Burrell primed to face D'Arcy and O'Driscoll

After naming his match-day 23, Stuart Lancaster spoke exclusively to RFUtv about five pivotal areas that will decide the RBS 6 Nations clash against Ireland.

A start for David Wilson

Scrummaging is obviously a big part of the game. In some matches you can a long time without a set-piece, but there are always key moments in a game that require a good tight head and fortunately David Wilson is one of those. He was exceptional last summer for us after a great end to the season for Bath. His injury was unfortunate, but he’s also been in good form this season.

Courtney Lawes and Jim Hamilton contest a lineout

Photo: Getty Images

He’s underrated around the park – I picked him for the Argentina Test in autumn on the back of his loose play as well as his tight play, so I have confidence in him in that regard. He is a good ball-carrier, a good defender and a very good lineout lifter as well. He understands the game and is one of our more experienced players.

Courtney Lawes’ lineout development

It’s a big ask to come in and start running the lineout. It’s not something he did normally at his club – Christian Day does it at Northampton. Courtney got the experience in running the lineout in Argentina which was brilliant for him in terms of his own development.

He’s maintained that through this season, through the autumn and into these games. He puts a lot of work into it and takes is really seriously. He’s a good reader of things defensively and can also understand where the holes are for us to get good quality ball. It’s an underrated skill and he’s beginning to excel at it.

Attacking and defending at the lineout

The game will be decided up front and Ireland have a very good maul as they have shown on many occasions – it’s very well drilled and constructed. We’ll have to be at our very best to stop that, but we’ll back ourselves as well. Both sides will get the balance right in terms of when to go off the top and when to keep it tight.

Billy Twelvetrees and Luther Burrell face Ireland’s experienced midfield

Billy Twelvetrees

Photo: Getty Images

We’ve changed the midfield a lot through injury as much as anything else, but Luther and Billy have a good understanding. Both of them have tended to defend in the 12 channel but Luther has adapted to go one out. We’ve not looked vulnerable there at all.

In attack, there is Billy’s ability to organise and help Owen out while also offering himself as a carrier. Luther is direct, but also has the vision and the skill to be able to give the ball on the outside when he needs to. I’m pleased with how they are developing – it’s an exciting combination.

Gordon D’Arcy and Brian O’Driscoll are a formidable partnership for them to come up against. They’ve played together more than 50 times and have a great mutual understanding as do the whole Ireland team because of its Leinster axis. It’s a great challenge for Billy and Luther but I know they’re confident.

George Ford set for a first cap

George Ford

Photo: Getty Images

He’s been with us for three weeks which is a big help. He had a couple of training sessions before that first game against France but in a key leadership position it is not right to throw someone in without giving them a chance to settle. I feel he’s done that in camp and understands the systems and structures well.

I feel he’s grown in that leadership role. As a fly half he has to boss everyone round and at 20 years old it takes some doing. He’s also gone back to his club and played well – his form has been excellent there for the last two months.

If we lose a centre he would probably come on with Owen shifting to centre. If we lost Owen, he’d come on there. It’s hard to predict though, and I won’t go into the game with a pre-set idea.