ENGLAND boss Martin Johnson insists a Friday night showdown in Wales will “get the blood flowing” and provide the perfect setting to kick off his side’s RBS 6 Nations campaign.
Next week’s highly-charged encounter with age-old rivals will demand that England hit the ground running if they are to mount a serious challenge for a trophy they last lifted eight years ago.
Johnson expects the cauldron of the Millennium Stadium to test his young team – and believes that an evening kick-off under floodlights will only add further spice to the occasion.
“I think atmosphere under the lights at night is always good, I’ve always liked it,” said Johnson. “The France game last year in Paris was an example of that. I know for travelling away fans and even home fans to a degree it can be a bit tougher but I like Friday night rugby. I’d much rather play Friday night than Sunday afternoon. It’s a game to get the blood flowing.”
Several youngsters, such as Ben Foden, Dylan Hartley, Chris Ashton and Ben Youngs, cemented their places in England’s first XV during a mixed autumn that contained more highs than lows.
Johnson admits playing in front of 74,000 baying Welshmen might present a novel challenge for some of his party, but maintains every single man is capable of performing in a pressure-cooker environment.
“If our guys are in our squad they are there because we trust them to play,” he added.
“We have to deal with the emotions of going to Cardiff. It’s going to be volatile, it’s going to be a new experience for some of them. The locals will be up for it, and dealing with all those things is part of it. We are not going to hold anything back.”
Johnson says he has “pencilled in” his team to face Wales but flanker Hendre Fourie remains an injury doubt, while centre Mike Tindall needed a scan yesterday after injuring his thigh in training.