Stuart Lancaster insists England have learned from their previous mistakes against Wales and are equipped to defeat them in tomorrow’s Six Nations showdown at Twickenham.
Last year’s sobering 30-3 defeat at the hands of Wales in Cardiff not only ended their Grand Slam quest that season, it also served up some serious questions about the development of head coach Lancaster’s team for the long haul.
England have shown signs of improvement in the intervening 12 months, having claimed notable scalps in Australia and Ireland.
But they can only truly put that haunting defeat against Wales to bed with a win tomorrow.
Victory over the reigning champions would also secure a first Triple Crown since 2003 and propel England into RBS Six Nations title contention when facing Italy in Rome on the final day of the Championship.
It would also land a telling psychological blow ahead of the rivals’ Twickenham encounter in the pool stage of the 2015 World Cup, with tomorrow marking Wales’s final visit to the venue before that meeting.
Likewise, Wales could do some serious damage with a fourth straight win over England.
“You use every defeat as motivation on how to improve,” said former Leeds player and coach Lancaster.
“We lost to New Zealand in the autumn and that was difficult to take, as was losing to France last month. But we’ve bounced back from those games and learned, like we learned from Wales last year.
“We’ve moved on since then.
“It’s a big game and we need to make sure we deliver on the field.
“All the talking is fine, it’s the team that delivers on the day that matters.
“We respect Wales as opponents, the quality and experience they have and how well they are set up. It will be a tough game, but we’re ready.
“I understand all the context around this particular game with the World Cup coming and the importance of getting a win, but I still believe the best team on the day wins.
“We play Wales twice before the World Cup and Wales play Australia (who share Group A with England and Wales), so I’m sure psychologically there will be some things there.”
England have named Ben Morgan at No 8 in place of the injured Billy Vunipola, who is to miss the rest of the Six Nations with a sprained ankle. Tom Johnson provides back-row cover on the bench.
The in-form Yorkshire-born duo of scrum-half Danny Care and centre Luther Burrell are part of an unchanged backline.
In total there are six survivors from the starting XV overwhelmed in Cardiff last year.
“There’s a bit more to Wales than people give them credit for,” said Lancaster.
“On the day the gainline’s important, but I’d be very surprised if they don’t have one or two tricks up their sleeve.
“They’ve come up with 12-man line-outs and various other things in the past, so I’m sure there will be things coming our way.”
Wales will look to nurture seeds of doubt: Page 8.