England’s rugby stars have found extra motivation to beat Wales by pledging to ‘do it for Jack’.
Eddie Jones’ side head to Cardiff a week today needing victory to stay alive in the Six Nations title race.
Scrum-half Dan Robson says seeing Jack Willis’ season ended so cruelly by injury against Italy has fired up the team.
“It was pretty horrifying,” said Robson, recalling how his Wasps pal cried out in pain as he was rolled out of a ruck, wrecking ligaments in his knee.
With no fans in the stadium Willis’ shriek echoed around the cavernous arena, upsetting players on both teams.
“That moment Jack screamed out was probably the worst I have had in a long time on a rugby field,” Robson said.
“It was pretty devastating for him and tough for me, being a teammate who had seen him go through that process before (of returning from long-term injury).
“As a team we said straight away ‘let’s go out and finish it for him’ and wanting to go on and get Jack a medal is definitely something we’ve talked about, and will probably continue to, to give us extra motivation.”
Wales-England is not a fixture either nation traditionally struggles to get up for and you would not expect this to be any different.
Not with Wayne Pivac’s unbeaten side 80 minutes from a Triple Crown and the visitors aware that them doing that would end their own title defence.
However, Eddie Jones admits England are suffering from the drop in aggression that is evident across rugby and football due to the absence of spectators.
“If you look at our first performance against Scotland, we lacked our normal aggression, we lacked our normal go-at-them type of game,” he said. “We were a little bit better against Italy, but still not where we need to be.”
Robson concedes there is “no easy solution” and that each player has to find a way to get themselves right for kick-off.
He said: “With there being no crowds and standing two metres apart for the anthem, it’s all a bit different.
“If you are used to getting that buzz from walking off the coach and seeing thousands of fans cheering you and singing the national anthem with another 80,000 people, if that’s your kind of in, you are going to have to work pretty hard on finding something else because it’s not an option at the minute.”
Two years on from his debut Robson has still to unseat Test centurion Ben Youngs but is pushing harder than ever for his first start.
“Before I was maybe perceived as an impact player,” he said. “I feel my game is now in a better place.”
Sale prop WillGriff John was last night called up by Wales to replace Dillon Lewis, who will miss the rest of the championship with a neck injury.
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