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Josh Lewsey Q&A

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    Josh Lewsey Q&A

    comes across well i think


    As an Englishman living in Ireland, I wonder how
    aware the England team is about the significance of the fixture being
    played at Croke Park? The furore here surrounding playing God Save The
    Queen has been incredible.


    The first thing to say is that it is very exciting. It
    is a massive honour for all of us to be involved in such an occasion.
    But it shouldn't be forgotten that we are there as sportsman and we are
    playing a sport.

    Conor O'Shea spoke to the lads this week about where the
    stadium stands in the hearts of the Irish people and we are very aware
    of the symbolism of playing at Croke Park and are very respectful as a
    result of that.

    I am aware of the history with my military background so I am immensely privileged to have this opportunity.

    How significant is Ireland losing against France. Will the England camp be mindful of an Irish backlash?

    Will Ward</font>

    I wanted Ireland to win against France on three levels.

    Firstly, I felt they deserved to win and secondly I got
    to know a lot of Irish lads on the Lions tour and they are a great set
    of guys. I have an enormous amount of respect for them both on and off
    the field. </font>

    Thirdly, you know that if they did lose then potentially you were going to have the backlash.

    We know we are up against it. Ireland are strong favourites, deservedly so, but we are going to go there and do our best.

    How much do you think England have to improve against
    Ireland following the games against Scotland and Italy, especially with
    how the Irish played against France?


    We are playing a seriously world-class outfit so we need
    to step up significantly if we going to win. Ireland were
    pre-tournament favourites, they lost against France admittedly, but
    that does not make them any less of a team. </font>

    Our execution needs to be better. We allowed Italy to play at their pace and dictate the tactics and the tempo of the match.

    On Saturday we are up against one of the mostly
    tactically astute players in the world in Ronan O'Gara. He is very good
    at pushing the right buttons at the right time.

    If you let Ireland set their rhythm then you are in for a very long and tiring afternoon. We want to play our game.

    Given that both you and Brian Ashton have emphasised
    that the Italian game was only your second playing as a team, and
    success in the Six Nations is important as a springboard for the World
    Cup, are club commitments making this challenge a lot harder?

    Bob Robinson

    You can answer that in two ways. On a physical level it
    is a disadvantage that most of the players did not get a rest last
    weekend. But you can also argue whether it has the same negative effect
    mentally - some players like playing week in week out.

    You don't necessarily need to beat each other up to get
    the benefit out of training so we certainly will not use it as an

    The clubs have done an enormous job to take forward our
    level of professional rugby and, in an ideal world, England and the
    clubs would work together.