sport

Robshaw issues rallying cry

Chris Robshaw has challenged England to carve out another piece of Calcutta Cup history when they host Scotland in the Six Nations opener.

Robshaw lifted the 144-year-old trophy at Murrayfield last year as England's new brigade launched the Stuart Lancaster era with a battling 13-6 victory.

If England were taking a step into the unknown on that occasion, on Saturday they will run out in front of an expectant crowd at Twickenham.

Scotland have not won at the home of English rugby for 30 years and their most recent match ended in a humbling defeat to Tonga, a result which cost Andy Robinson his job as head coach.

England, meanwhile, return to the scene of their record triumph over New Zealand steeled for a Scottish backlash and determined to bring Twickenham to its feet again.

"It is always a massive occasion. We spoke in the week about the honour of playing in the oldest international rugby fixture in history," Robshaw said.

"You don't get many opportunities to play special games like that.

"Both sides will be fully aware of what the game means and the history and rivalry between the two countries.

"It is a completely new challenge to last year. We were a new coaching team, new players and no-one really knew what to expect from us.

"This is a new challenge. People expect different things from us and as players it is about rising to that challenge.

"I have a very talented and great group around me who enjoy going out there and playing rugby. I think that showed in the autumn.

"There were some tough times as well. Every time we go out there we are going out to work hard for the nation, for the fans who have come to watch us and hopefully perform well for them."

Robshaw followed Lancaster in rejecting claims from the former Scotland coach Jim Telfer that England's arrogance prevents them from realising they are not as good as they think they are.

"We have gone about our business in the same way as we always do," Robshaw said.

"Everyone has done their extra work in training.

"Things have been said but they have always been said.

"We focus very much on ourselves and on Scotland's perceived strengths and weaknesses.

"I am sure they will have a few tricks up their sleeve.

"We have to make sure we put the right foot forward first and hit the ground running."

England are anticipating a dogfight at Twickenham tomorrow. Scotland have not won at the stadium in 30 years but England's last three wins have all been by a converted try or less.

In tight encounters such as that, Lancaster talks about players who offer a point of difference being critical.

England have lost one in the injured Manu Tuilagi but hope to have found another in Billy Twelvetrees, who will make his debut at inside centre.

"I coached him with the Saxons in the Churchill Cup and I could see then he had lots of potential and physicality," Lancaster said.

"I have always wanted ball-players in the backline, as well as people who can carry, have pace and physicality.

"Billy has an opportunity to demonstrate that he has it all. I have every confidence in him going into the game.

"Sometimes opportunities present themselves in different ways. We know Manu is going to be fit for next week and we hope Billy puts a marker down this week and gives us another headache."

Tom Youngs' form through the autumn internationals and since has earned him the hooker's jersey, despite the return to fitness of Dylan Hartley.

Ben Youngs edged the scrum-half debate from Danny Care and Alex Goode returned from a shoulder injury in time to continue at full-back.

Joe Marler returns for the injured Alex Corbisiero at loosehead prop, where he will lock horns with Scotland's Euan Murray on his 50th Test appearance.

"Joe made his debut on the summer tour and quickly performed like a seasoned international," forwards coach Graham Rowntree said.

"He was straight in against one of the biggest packs in the world at Ellis Park and held his own.

"He continued that form into the Premiership and then got his injury against Australia (in the autumn). Joe has to be up to that standard again playing.

"I am a big fan of Euan. He is certainly a big challenge to us but one I think we are up to."

Owen Farrell is arguably in the form of his life and he will continue at fly-half, having taken his goal-kicking to world-class standards since the autumn.