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VIDEO EXCLUSIVE – Lancaster on five key areas for Wales clash

07 March 2014

  • Lancaster hands RFUtv an exclusive insight 
  • England Head Coach happy with back-row balance

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

Ben Morgan in for Billy Vunipola

He’s very similar in terms of his work-rate, tackling and ball-carrying. We feel it’s a lucky position for us to be in – being able to bring in someone like Ben. He’s experienced and has very similar attributes to Billy.

Back-row balance

Dan Lydiate

Photo: Getty Images

Wales have  got an exceptional back row in Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau and everyone holds them in high regard. Justin Tipuric is on the bench and he is a fine player too.

They’ve played together a long time and complement each other well – Faletau is excellent, Lydiate is a great defender and Warburton has a fantastic all-round game. It’s going to be a big challenge for our three.

Balance and not having a ball-carrier was probably part of the equation last time [during the 30-3 defeat in Cardiff] and a reason we didn’t get the result we wanted. Ben certainly fills that void.

Tom Johnson’s selection on the bench

He’s always trained well and been an integral part of our squad. He always impresses everyone with his power running, footballing ability and his attitude – he’s a great lad and always contributes to the team.

Jack Nowell

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This season he has played at No.8 as well for Exeter, so his versatility is a strength. He can play at six, seven and eight and as a consequence he is a good option on the bench for us.

Jack Nowell and Jonny May against George North and Alex Cuthbert

It’s a steep learning curve for Jack and Jonny. You’re putting them into the toughest arena both interms of scrutiny and opposition they are playing against. The pressure is high for decision-making and I think they’ve done really well.

We’ve asked them to change from their club defensive system to our one and they’ve managed that. Their back-field coverage has been good, too and they obviously have a point of difference on attack. Jack set up Mike Brown’s try in Scotland and Jonny has been making line-breaks – they’ve both shown real quality.

Jamie Roberts 

Photo: Getty Images

It’s a very physical Welsh backline we face – every one of their backs are British and Irish Lions as well. North and Cuthbert are experienced, good players but we’re quietly confident that our players are up to the match.

What does it take to beat Wales?

We might know what’s coming when they have the ball, but when have it we must impose our game on them. As always, set-piece will determine who gets the best first-phase ball and defensively we need to stop them on the gainline.

They’ve got a very good attacking framework and structure so everyone knows what’s happening, but you’ve still got to stop it. They also have an unbelievable kicker in Leigh Halfpenny who will punish any in discipline. But it’s about us and putting our game on them. 

I don’t get personal about teams – I just concentrate on our team and what we need to get right. The rest will take care of itself.