Robshaw’s England ready to end 10-year wait for slam

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Chris Robshaw led the war cry last night by insisting grand slam-chasing England are ready for anything Wales can throw at them in today’s eagerly-anticipated Six Nations decider in Cardiff.

The England captain says Stuart Lancaster’s troops have even gone to the lengths of preparing for the Millennium Stadium band to march straight through their warm-up routine, so thorough has their preparation been to end a 10-year wait for a grand slam.

Martin Johnson’s all-conquering team of 2003 were the last red rose side to do it, but the fact that Lancaster and Robshaw have got England into this position just 18 months after the World Cup debacle highlights the excellent work of everyone involved.

Wales – the only Six Nations team to beat England in Lancaster’s 15 months in charge – could easily spoil the party, with a win or draw denying England the grand slam, while victory by seven points or more would mean Six Nations silverware remaining in Cardiff.

England are in for a white-hot reception at what will be a super-charged Millennium Stadium but Robshaw and his men will be ready.

He said: “We’ve been to intimidating places before, the likes of Ellis Park (in Johannesburg), and Wales is definitely up there.

“People speak about it as probably one of the best places to actually go and play rugby.

“We have prepared that there is going to be a marching band come through our warm-up. You can let that get on your nerves or you can plan for it.

“You know where they (band) are going to walk and you move to different areas.”

The Welsh Rugby Football Union have decreed that the stadium’s roof will be closed, which will only heighten the noise inside the Millennium cauldron.

Getting off to a fast start and silencing a partisan crowd could be vital for Robshaw and his team.

Robshaw said: “If you give the crowd an opportunity to get into the game in the first 10 minutes, then it’s going to be a long old afternoon, as we found at Ellis Park (last summer), when we were 20 points down in 20 minutes.

“It is about making sure that in the warm-up we soak up what it is going to be like, and make sure when that first whistle goes we are mentally prepared and ready to give it our all.

“A lot of the players involved tomorrow were there at Ellis Park and experienced that. You look back on your experiences and hopefully we can learn from it.

“It’s about making sure we don’t get flustered by these things and that we keep our cool.”

Robshaw and company arrived in Cardiff on the back of a wholly unconvincing 18-11 Twickenham victory over unheralded Italy, and if England are anything like as lethargic today then Wales could have a field day.

Although Wales suffered a home defeat against Ireland in their opening game, they then reeled off three successive away wins, beating France, Italy and Scotland without conceding a try.

England, by contrast, have only scored one try in their last three victories.

Robshaw said: “When you come to a place like Cardiff, you might get one or two chances, and we’ve got to make sure we are good enough to make it count.

“It is one thing saying it and it is another thing doing it. That is the challenge we have.”

Regan, Davies, Hooper and more build-up: Pages 6 and 7.

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