NO damage done and don’t press the panic button is the message England should take from yesterday’s scrap at Twickenham.
Edging home against Italy was not on the agenda, but with the Grand Slam on the line on Saturday in Cardiff it might not have been the worst thing in the world to happen to this young team.
However, no one should underestimate the challenge Stuart Lancaster’s side face against Wales, who are coming into the match on the back of three away wins.
It is all going to go off in Wales but these are the games players should relish. Get out there, stick your chest out, belt out the national anthem and have a right pop at it.
That is what I miss and that is what Chris Robshaw should be telling his players to do. But they’re up against it.
I went to Cardiff three times as a player with England and only won once – in 2001 – and some of our new boys won’t have experienced anything like it.
You get attention from all around from the day you arrive in Cardiff. The fireworks are bursting, the Welsh songs are being screamed out but you have got to man up and embrace it.
It is one of the best places in the world to play rugby and I fancy this England crew to get stuck in and give it a real blast.
The Welsh can win the Six Nations title on points difference – but even if they don’t, they would love to ruin England’s party.
Wales have taken a bit of time to warm up in this championship but they are up and running, even if their win in Scotland on Saturday was nearly as ugly as England’s yesterday.
They have grown into this Six Nations after having a nightmare first half in their opening game against Ireland with Shaun Edwards, my old mate from Wasps – but not for this week – plugging up their defence.
Sam Warburton was a dog at the breakdown on Saturday and England must work out a way to sort him out.
Ireland’s draw with France on Saturday could have been Brian O’Driscoll’s last Test match in Dublin.
I have been on two Lions tours with Brian but we are on completely different wavelengths. I know as much about playing in the centre as he does about the proper stuff going on in the front row. Brian and Jason Robinson were the only two players who I looked at and thought, ‘How do they do that?’
Ireland’s trip to Italy on the final day is irrelevant to the tournament but if it is Brian’s last appearance in a green jersey – as has been hinted – it should not go unrecognised.
But, with apologies to my mate, this week is all about Cardiff.