ENGLAND captain Chris Robshaw has warned Scotland to be ready for a “massive reaction” from a wounded team smouldering at their painful loss to France.
Two rivals who tasted defeat in the opening round of the 2014 RBS Six Nations meet at Murrayfield on Saturday.
England were dispatched 26-24 in shattering circumstances at the Stade de France when, having nudged 24-19 ahead, wing Gael Fickou glided over in the 77th minute. Little comfort has been drawn from the character-fuelled fightback staged in a compelling match as Robshaw outlined what is expected from the 2015 World Cup hosts.
“There will have to be a massive reaction. All the guys have been seething a bit. To have gone so close and played so well. . .” the England captain said.
“Our game is not judged on performance, it is judged on results. We need to make sure we turn our performance into results.
“Both sides lost on the weekend and we want to rectify that. No one wants to be called plucky losers. Everyone wants to be winners. That’s why we play the game – to win the big tournaments. We don’t want to play well to finish second every time.
“We’ve now left ourselves with a lot of work to do and all the guys are up for that. We now need a bit of luck along the way but there are certain elements in our hands still.”
Robshaw believes England, who will be removed from the title frame should they lose in Edinburgh, thrive in adversity.
“If you look at the character of the squad every guy seems to step up in these arenas,” he said. “We’ve been to some pretty hostile environments, Murrayfield being one of them. Paris last week, Ellis Park, all these type of places. It’s you against them and you need to make sure you come out on top.
“When guys look around and see the characters around them and know what these guys are capable of it gives them strength. There’s a slightly different pressure on us now. Both us and Scotland have lost our first games and are fighting for that win.”
The Stade de France witnessed one of England’s best attacking performances under head coach Stuart Lancaster, but they may be required to play a different game against Scotland. The state of the Murrayfield pitch has been condemned and, with rain forecast for the hours building up to the game, the scene has been set for a Scottish ambush.
“We speak about being an all-court team and being able to mix it when it’s wet and dirty but also playing an expansive game,” Robshaw said. “I’ve only been to Murrayfield once. It’s a very tough environment. They put a lot of pressure on the breakdown and try and slow you down. We know we’re going to have to face adversity at times, we know it’s going to be tough and attritional. Whenever we play Scotland it’s always a pretty ferocious game and the rivalry between the two countries adds to that.”
England prop Joe Marler is also unconcerned by the Murrayfield pitch and says he has played on far worse surfaces. A parasite infection that has been treated with garlic, combined with a wet winter, has seen the ground cut up badly during Scotland and Edinburgh games this season.
Scrummaging could be particularly problematic, but past experiences – notably at Bristol club Dings Crusaders – have left Marler nonchalant as he prepares to lock horns with the Scots’ front row.
“At Dings Crusaders the pitch was full of sand, pebbles, glass. Hopefully, Murrayfield won’t be as bad as that!” the Harlequins prop said. “There are quite a few pitches out there that are like that. It’s the same for both teams. The pitch is not something we’ve spoken too much about. We know the pitch will probably be terrible and so will the conditions, but you just get on with it as it affects both sides.”
None of Marler’s 16 caps have been won at Murrayfield but the Harlequins loosehead prop journeyed to Edinburgh as a travelling reserve two years ago. England won 13-6 in Lancaster’s first game as head coach and the experience has prepared Marler what to expect on Saturday.
“I love going into places like that. No one likes England, particularly the Scots. It will be another environment to relish and look forward to,” he said.
England will this morning complete the formality of naming their starting XV and replacements for the must-win Calcutta Cup showdown. Lancaster announced on Tuesday night that the same matchday squad selected against France has been retained for Edinburgh.