Stuart Lancaster has stressed the importance of England delivering a big performance against Wales in tomorrow’s RBS 6 Nations showdown at Twickenham.
Wales are targeting an unprecedented third successive Six Nations crown – an achievement that has never been managed outright before – and a fourth consecutive victory over England.
But head coach Lancaster is hoping his improving England outfit can reproduce the intensity shown in the 13-10 win against Ireland and avenge last year’s 30-3 thrashing in Cardiff.
“All the talking is fine but we have to make sure we deliver on the field,” he warned.
“It’s a big game, a tough game, but we think we’re ready.”
Lancaster is hoping home advantage will count in England’s favour.
“I think it’s fantastic to go back to Twickenham,” he said.
“There was an unbelievable atmosphere against Ireland and this week will be right up there as well.
“It definitely gives us an extra lift and that’s what we want against another experienced, high-quality side, who are looking to defend their title. Hopefully, we’ll give performances like we did against Ireland.”
Lancaster is under no illusions about the task England face against Warren Gatland’s men, particularly given the number of British and Irish Lions in the Welsh ranks, but is hoping that his players can rise to the challenge.
“Looking at the quality of their team, they are full of British Lions. We don’t have so many but, come the day, let’s see what happens,” he added.
“In the autumn they didn’t quite get the results they wanted but, against France, they showed that on their day they can be a world-class team and I’m sure they will come ready on Sunday.
“We respect them and they have got more to their game than people give them credit for. The gain line is important but I’d be surprised if they don’t have a few tricks up their sleeve as well.
“We have an opportunity to play against a team that is strong in lots of areas. We have a chance to test ourselves.”
England have named Ben Morgan at number eight in response to Billy Vunipola being ruled out of the final two rounds of the championship with a sprained ankle.
The Gloucester back row has made a substantial contribution to England’s Six Nations campaign as an impact replacement, but is to win his 19th cap as a starter against Wales.
Filling Morgan’s place on the bench is Tom Johnson of Exeter in the second and final change to the 23 that dispatched Ireland.
“Ben has made an impact off the bench in the previous games,” England head coach Stuart Lancaster said. “He has been pushing hard for the number eight shirt and now gets his opportunity, so we are looking forward to seeing him from the start.
“Tom has been outstanding for Exeter and gives us options off the bench as he has played in all three back-row positions for his club.”
England team to play Wales: M Brown (Harlequins); J Nowell (Exeter), L Burrell (Northampton), B Twelvetrees (Gloucester), J May (Gloucester); O Farrell (Saracens), D Care (Harlequins); J Marler (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), D Wilson (Bath), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), T Wood (Northampton), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Morgan (Gloucester). Replacements: T Youngs (Leicester), M Vunipola (Saracens), H Thomas (Sale), D Attwood (Bath), T Johnson (Exeter), L Dickson (Northampton), G Ford (Bath), A Goode (Saracens).