- Midweek captain wants England to "come out of the blocks firing"
- Our attack was pretty good last time. The area of improvement needs to be defence – Robson
Ahead of this evening’s clash against a Northern Barbarians XV in Potchefstroom, England’s midweek captain George Robson has urged his side to shore up the defensive frailties that saw them leak four tries during their last outing against the Southern Barbarians.
Despite crossing the whitewash eight times themselves, England were not overly satisfied with a final scoreline of 54-26 in Kimberley and Robson outlined the need for improvement in what will be the final match of the tour for most of the team.
“We have got a lot of things to work on but we are looking forward to it,” explained the Harlequin, who was a key part of his club’s Aviva Premiership-winning campaign. “We want to finish on a good note.
“It is crucial that we come out of the blocks firing. We got caught cold in the first five minutes last week and our discipline wasn’t great. We have the same referee – Jonathan Kaplan – so we will need to be wary of what he wants from the game, too.
“Our attack was pretty good last time – the area of improvement needs to be defence. We need to be set early, then get off the line and make our shots accurately. If we can get that right, we’ll be on the way.”
After a fantastic season on the domestic front, 26 year-old Robson will be hopeful of being named in Stuart Lancaster’s Elite Player Squad for QBE Internationals this autumn, the make-up of which will be announced shortly after the party return from South Africa.
However, he refused to place too much onus on that particular goal, preferring instead to focus on the shorter term and, more specifically, Tuesday night:
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“We are all desperate to be involved so we will all be putting our hand up tomorrow to say that we should be in there, both as a group and as individuals.
“The only way we can do that is by putting in a good performance as a team, making less mistakes in defence and tightening up other bits and bobs. Then, we should be in a good place.”
Having seen last Wednesday’s man-of-the match Thomas Waldrom thrust into the Test arena because of an injury to Phil Dowson, Robson next acknowledged the importance of mental preparation and flexibility in light of how fickle top-level rugby can be.
Finally, the lock cast his mind back to the words of Dave Sylvester, a member of England’s strength and conditioning staff, who gave a presentation to the players on his time in the Royal Marines.
“Before we came out here, Tweets [Sylvester] talked to us and impressed the importance of being ready,” Robson added. "He told us what that meant to him when he was in the Armed Forces.
“We have to take a similar attitude. When and if you are called upon, you have to be switched on to the demands of the Test environment.”