Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Forward Thinking Will Help When the Pressure Really Cranks Up in Dublin

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Forward Thinking Will Help When the Pressure Really Cranks Up in Dublin

Article excerpt

Byline: David Flatman

THIS Saturday represents the most pressurised situation in which this England team has found itself since the World Cup. Frankly, until last weekend's dismantling of a promising Scotland side, Eddie Jones' men hadn't quite seemed comfortable on their self-built throne.

A last-gasp win against Wales, the visible battle for tactical clarity against Italy, the occasional frontline creak at the mitts of the French behemoths all of these chinks in England's armour will have offered quiet shots of hope to their scheduled opponents.

Then the Scots arrived in body only at Twickenham and the men in white were given the chance to dance once more. And make no mistake, they needed that.

Landing in Dublin for an occasion as colossal as this final match of the Six Nations with no form to speak of would have doubled the pressure on them. Not only would England have had to deal with an Irish team hell-bent on forcing their administrative staff into hurried cancellations of open top bus tours, swanky receptions and hours of hungover press interviews, but they'd have had to find a performance, too.

Scotland, through their defensive play, gifted England a timely injection of confidence last Saturday. There must have been Irish fans everywhere cursing the apparent absence of resistance from the visitors as England ghosted through them at will.

So, that will help England, but still there remains the small matter of keeping their cool this weekend. Should England emerge from their steamed-up changing room too relaxed, they'll be slaughtered like the Scots were. Likewise, should Dylan Hartley's pre-match talk hit his players' switches too hard, somebody might do a Fraser Brown and deflate his whole side by getting sin-binned early on due to a lack of control.

The key to managing this pressure, I think, is the psychological preparation during the week. …

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