Time to deliver, warns Lancaster
2:59pm Friday 7th March 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Stuart Lancaster has stressed the importance of England delivering a big performance against Wales in Sunday's RBS 6 Nations showdown at Twickenham.
Wales are targeting an unprecedented third successive Six Nations crown - an achievement that has never been managed outright before - and a fourth consecutive victory over England.
But head coach Lancaster is hoping his improving England outfit can reproduce the intensity shown in the 13-10 win against Ireland and avenge last year's 30-3 thrashing in Cardiff.
"All the talking is fine but we have to make sure we deliver on the field," he warned.
"It's a big game, a tough game, but we think we're ready."
Lancaster is hoping home advantage will count in England's favour.
"I think it's fantastic to go back to Twickenham," he said.
"There was an unbelievable atmosphere against Ireland and this week will be right up there as well.
"It definitely gives us an extra lift and that's what we want against another experienced, high-quality side, who are looking to defend their title.
"Hopefully, we'll give performances like we did against Ireland."
Lancaster is under no illusions about the task England face against Warren Gatland's men, particularly given the number of British and Irish Lions in the Welsh ranks, but is hoping that his players can rise to the challenge.
"Looking at the quality of their team, they are full of British Lions. We don't have so many but, come the day, let's see what happens," he added.
"In the autumn they didn't quite get the results they wanted but, against France, they showed that on their day they can be a world-class team and I'm sure they will come ready on Sunday.
"We respect them and they have got more to their game than people give them credit for. The gain line is important but I'd be surprised if they don't have a few tricks up their sleeve as well.
"We have an opportunity to play against a team that is strong in lots of areas. We have a chance to test ourselves."
England have named Ben Morgan at number eight in response to Billy Vunipola being ruled out of the final two rounds of the championship with a sprained ankle.
The Gloucester back row has made a substantial contribution to England's Six Nations campaign as an impact replacement, but is to win his 19th cap as a starter against Wales.
Filling Morgan's place on the bench is Tom Johnson of Exeter in the second and final change to the 23 that dispatched Ireland.
"Ben has made an impact off the bench in the previous games," England head coach Stuart Lancaster said.
"He has been pushing hard for the number eight shirt and now gets his opportunity, so we are looking forward to seeing him from the start.
"Tom has been outstanding for Exeter and gives us options off the bench as he has played in all three back-row positions for his club."
Lancaster views Morgan as a "dead-set, like-for-like replacement" for Vunipola due to his ability to get England over the gain line, although doubts persist over his capacity to last 80 minutes.
Explosive centre Manu Tuilagi recovered from a torn pectoral muscle to play for Leicester last weekend, but his lack of match fitness after six months on the sidelines meant he was not considered for England selection.
Lancaster also believes the injuries to senior players have helped to increase the depth of the pool of players he can rely on going forward.
"We've had some injuries but the young lads have come in and taken their opportunities well. What that's done is create more strength in depth for us," he said.
Sunday's winners will go on to contest the title on the final weekend, with England travelling to Rome to face Italy, while the losers will be removed from contention.
Adding further significance to the match is that it will be the final time Wales visit Twickenham before the rivals meet at the same venue in the pool stages of the 2015 World Cup.