KYRAN BRACKEN has warned England to expect a cauldron of hate when they step out at Murrayfield for the Calcutta Cup showdown tomorrow.
The former England scrum-half believes the Scots are still smarting from their shock defeat in Italy a fortnight ago and will be gunning for revenge against the Auld Enemy.
“Murrayfield’s a horrible place for England to go, especially having lost there two years ago and arriving on the back of a defeat to Ireland,” Bracken told City A.M.
“The Calcutta Cup has always had a great tradition but the fact that both sides need to win gives this game a little added spice. Scotland will be desperate to bury the ghost of the Italy defeat and would like nothing better than to beat England on home soil.
“Wales, Scotland and Ireland don’t mind losing to each other but none of them want to lose to England.”
Bracken played alongside England manager Martin Johnson in the World Cup-winning campaign of 2003, and is backing his former captain to come through the hostile Murrayfield experience unscathed.
“Martin knows exactly what to expect from a trip to Murrayfield as will most of his side. England haven’t played as well as they can in this Six Nations and it will be interesting to see how they approach this game given the criticism they have received.
“That said, if England hold onto their 16-13 lead against the Irish with five minutes left and go into the Scotland game unbeaten, then the critics are silenced. It just goes to show how one or two small lapses of concentration can change things.”
Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson has felt the brunt of much of that criticism, but Bracken believes his former team-mate is being unfairly treated.
“Yes, he hasn’t quite reached the exceptional high standards with his kicking but a lot of the criticism he is receiving are in areas that are nothing to do with him. It just goes to show how people’s perception of the game is changing, but knowing Jonny, he will bounce back, I’m sure.”
Kyran was talking on behalf of www.gameplansolutions.co.uk.