Freddie Steward has heralded England’s first match at Twickenham since the World Cup as a chance to “draw a line in the sand”. They were booed off the field after their last home match and he hopes supporters will “erupt” when Wales visit in the Six Nations on Saturday.
England limped to their first loss to Fiji during their previous Twickenham outing in August with supporters making their frustrations clear afterwards. The disconnect continued at the World Cup when fans could be heard booing in between rousing performances against Argentina in their opening match and their semi-final defeat by South Africa.
Since then, Jamie George has replaced Owen Farrell as captain and the Saracens hooker has discussed how to improve the Twickenham experience with the rest of the squad and the Rugby Football Union. England will arrive at Twickenham on Saturday buoyed up by their opening win over Italy and Steward has called on supporters to help make the home ground a fortress.
“We have spoken about that as a team, how do we make Twickenham a place where we can be our best and make it a difficult place to come,” said the Leicester Tigers full-back.
“We are fortunate we have got an incredible set of fans and they play a part in it. Us being back at home is also synonymous with us being a new group. This is essentially a fresh start. We have had our World Cup and we are on the start of a new cycle with fresh faces, new coaches and this is our chance to draw a line in the sand.
“As players when you play for England you are expected to win and when you don’t win, understandably you don’t have the fans on your side and there was a bit of that in the warm-ups.
“During the World Cup when we got to the semi-final it felt like that is what it can be like. As players we want that all the time but we have to put the performances on the field to earn that. They are the heartbeat of what we do. We want Twickenham to erupt and we want it to be a place we want to go and play in front of our fans and represent them.
“I would never blame the fans, and say they need to lift [the players]. They do that on the back of what we do, so the responsibility is ours.”
Meanwhile, England are hopeful Bath’s Ollie Lawrence will be available for their meeting with Scotland on 24 February after the attack coach, Richard Wigglesworth, revealed he could be called into camp this week.
Lawrence is sidelined by a hip injury and initial fears were that he would miss the entire tournament. His gain line-breaking ability was missed in England’s narrow victory over Italy and while he will also miss the match against Wales,owever, he could be back for the trip to Murrayfield.
England are also hopeful the Leicester lock George Martin – who is in camp at Bagshot – will be available to face Scotland. “Ollie Lawrence is potentially coming in at the end of this week, maybe next week but he’s not available this weekend,” said Wigglesworth. “George Martin is in camp with us this week to rehab and is not available for the weekend.”