We want to send them away from Twickenham happy and excited about the future.
This has been a successful RBS 6 Nations campaign from this team’s point of view.
For a new group that only came together seven or eight weeks ago, we have improved with every performance.
And if we can keep on doing that we will be on our way to being a really good side. This group will be together for quite a while so these are exciting times.
If we can build on the experiences we’ve had in this tournament, the positive and negative, then we’ll be a very tough proposition for any opponent in the coming months.
And what an experience last Sunday’s victory in Paris was. Winning away from home is always tough but in France it is especially so. From my time playing for Stade Francais, I know how difficult getting away wins over there is – in three seasons we’ve only won three games on the road. So our victory was quite a special achievement.
Getting those two tries early on gave us a real platform.
It was a shame we gave away a couple of penalties because I don’t think they deserved to be that close at half-time.
Credit to the French for fighting back though, they really upped their game in the second half.
If there is anything we can improve on from the Stade de France in today’s game it would be our discipline.
The amount of points we gave them effectively kept France in the match. The number of penalties you concede can depend on the referee on the day, and the circumstances. But mainly it’s down to individuals taking responsibility. Sometimes when you are penalised there is nothing you can do about it, but generally it’s your own fault. It’s about taking responsibility and making good decisions.
It’s also important today against Ireland that we get off to a fast start. I was in the team that went into Dublin 12 months ago on the verge of a grand slam and were blown away in the first half.
We were never in the game.
So it’s vital today that we go out there and grab the upper hand from the off, get some early points on the board.
On a personal level, I was pleased to be back involved in France, to get on and help the team close the game out.
It will be great to be involved again today, albeit from the bench.
I’m 33 in a couple of weeks. I’m moving back to England to rejoin Wasps in the summer to prolong my international career. I love playing for England and want to stay involved for as long as I can.
But also at this stage of my playing career I have to start thinking about the future.
I plan to begin looking into it this summer with the career development officer at the Rugby Players’ Association, our union. They’ve got programmes in place to help players making that transition.
Until then it’s about the here and now, beating Ireland at Twickenham today.
This team has been through a lot these past weeks and I am confident we can deliver a fitting finale for our fans to enjoy.
Tom Palmer and the Yorkshire Post are supporting RBS RugbyForce, the community rugby programme that is improving club facilities across the nation. To find out more or register your rugby club for the RBS RugbyForce Weekend on June 2 and 3, visit www.rbs.com/rugbyforce.