Saturday, March 16, 2013
Pressure all on England, says Wales forward Evans
(Reuters) - All the pressure will be on England in Saturday's Six Nations decider against last year's grand slam champions Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, according to the home team's lock forward Ian Evans.
A win for the visitors would guarantee Stuart Lancaster's unbeaten side the grand slam but Wales can still retain the Six Nations title with victory by at least eight points, or seven so long as England do not outscore them by three tries.
"I would say the pressure is on England," Evans told reporters on Friday. "They are coming to Wales to play for a grand slam and that is a hell of a lot of pressure."
Evans said the experience of the Welsh side, who have won three grand slams in eight years, could sway things in favour of the hosts especially as most of the England team have never played in front of the fervent home supporters at the Millennium.
"We went to Twickenham to win the triple crown and most of the boys felt the pressure then but we came through it," Evans added.
"We have got that experience but it's unknown territory for the English boys coming here for the grand slam."
England last picked up the Six Nations title in 2011 but have not finished with a perfect five wins since 2003 when they went on to win the only World Cup to be claimed by a northern hemisphere side.
Loose forward Tom Wood, who won on his debut in Cardiff in 2011, has advised his England team mates not to get flustered by the pre-match racket in the stadium.
"There is a lot of noise. You have your side of the field to warm up on and there are often bands playing and an awful lot going on. It can be a little bit unsettling at times," said number eight Wood.
"I don't know if it is a deliberate ploy to try and unsettle your warmup routine or if it is because there is a confined space and they are looking to get as much going on as possible."
On the Welsh side, grand slam skipper Sam Warburton has said he is perfectly happy to play under prop Gethin Jenkins on Saturday after Ryan Jones was ruled out with a broken shoulder.
Jones took over the captaincy from Warburton when the flanker missed the match against France with injury and then started on the bench against Italy.
Warburton said in his Daily Telegraph column published on Friday that he had discussed the captaincy with interim coach Rob Howley and they agreed he should be allowed to concentrate on his own game.
"The first thing to say is I am gutted for Ryan Jones who has captained Wales so well during this campaign but is not playing against England because of injury," Warburton wrote.
"The second thing to say is I am perfectly happy with the fact I am not Wales captain in his place. I am sure Gethin Jenkins will do a great job.
"I took over for the last 30 or so minutes when Ryan went off against Scotland and I actually felt very comfortable being captain during that time.
"But I am not captain from the start tomorrow so that I can concentrate on my own game. I had a chat with our coach, Rob Howley, and it was mutually agreed that would be the best thing for everyone."
(Writing by Tom Pilcher and John Mehaffey)
Wales to face England under closed roof