Feb 26, 2016
England Men and Women Focusing on Progress Ahead of Ireland Clashes
Ahead of their Six Nations clash against Ireland the word of the hour for England is undoubtedly ‘progress’. “I think in a lot of ways we’re making progress” said England forwards coach and ex Saracen Steve Borthwick, “in each game but also each training session. It’s a constant ongoing of striving to get better”
Away victories against Scotland and Italy have seen England climb to the top of the Six Nations standings but this weekend represents what many see as their sternest test since Eddie Jones took over the reins. For all the midweek hype around the game, Borthwick remains grounded in his assessment of England’s opposition. “They’re a very well coached side, a very good side with lots of good players, which means we’ve got to really focus on our preparations. [We’ll] make sure we prepare as well as we can so that we perform well. It’s a big challenge but it’s an exciting one.”
The focus on effective preparation is echoed by Saracens full back Alex Goode who will start on the bench against Ireland on Saturday. “We’re just preparing really well, we’ve trained really hard…we consider ourselves to be a team that’s growing with confidence and we’re in a good place more than anything.”
Goode is among seven Saracens named in the England squad for Saturday and will be hoping to come off the bench and make an impact. “Anytime you come off the bench you just want to come on and help the team and make a positive impact…You want to bring energy and you want to lift the others guys. You want to put a big hit in you want to make a run you want to do a dominant carry a good kick just bring them a bit more energy and see it over the finish line or tear opposition apart.”
Saturday will be the first home fixture for England in this year’s Six Nations and the excitement for the squad to return to Twickenham and play in front of a home crowd is unmistakable. “The boys are itching to go, they want to go out and play” enthused Goode. “We want to start well and bring intensity to the game.” Borthwick too believes the sense of occasion this weekend will drive the team forward. “I think that every one of the players is really looking forward to playing at Twickenham this week. It’s a privileged to be at a fantastic stadium with 80 something thousand people screaming for the team to do well. I think the team really wants to do well and hopefully we can perform well this weekend.”
Also in action this weekend are the England Women who will embark on their own battle against Ireland Women on the Twickenham pitch after the men’s fixture. For Saracens winger Lottie Clapp, who scored her first international try against Italy, this is uncharted territory. “I’ve never played there before so this will be my first time” she admitted “I love the atmosphere there, it’s always exciting. It’ll be a good experience for me. It was a huge dream for me [to play at Twickenham] and it’s crazy that it’s actually reality now”.
Like the men, progress and continual improvement are the words on everyone’s lips around the England camp. “Every training session is a learning session. Learning new things, different ways that we can play. It’s really good that we keep on improving, learning from each match and what we can do differently so we can improve” said Clapp ahead of the game. “We’re feeling confident because we’re improving every week. We just need to not be complacent about it all, keep composed when we play Ireland and really give them a good fight”.
Steve Borthwick, Alex Goode and Lottie Clapp were speaking to England Rugby Podcast. The England men’s game against Ireland will kick off at 16:50 on Saturday and will be shown live on ITV. England’s women will kick off at 19:15.