Johnson: England are ready to go
September 9, 2011
The wait is over and Englnad are ready to face the Pumas on Saturday © Getty Images
England's preparations for the World Cup are complete following their final training session ahead of their opening clash with Argentina on Saturday.
Martin Johnson put his men through an intense session on Thursday before today's more gentle outing - their one and only chance to experience the new stadium before the big kick-off. And Johnson declared: "The boys are just ready to go. I think it will be a real good game tomorrow and I'm just looking forward to getting going now, I think the whole tournament is.
"It's been quite a build-up in the last 10 days. We trained very well last night. We asked for a pretty crisp and intense session and we got it. We've still got over 24 hours, it's going to be a fairly long wait but I think we are looking forward to it.
"It's all about guys individually mentally getting themselves in the right place for tomorrow night."
The 30,500-capacity Otago Stadium is the only venue in the world that boasts natural grass under a permanent, see-through roof, a unique set-up that poses its own set of challenges. The stadium design generates an electric atmosphere and the anticipated noise is something Johnson has had to address with his side.
"I think it is a fantastic stadium," said Johnson. "It's a very personal stadium, a great size and the surface is pretty good. It's a different feel at night. With th e lights on and the crowd, I think it will be a great venue.
"From what you hear from the previous games it will be very noisy, when there's a crowd in there, the sound reverberates around. "We've spoken about that and communication on the field."
The focus of every England-Argentina clash is on the scrum, with the Pumas boasting one of the most revered packs in the global game. England learned the brutal consequences of losing the physical battle in their defeats last season to South Africa and Ireland and are steeling themselves for a brutal encounter.
"I've played with a number of their forwards at Stade Francais, Rodrigo Roncero, Juan Leguizamon," said flanker James Haskell. "If you come to a World Cup and you are not ready for the physical challenge, there's no point being here.
"We know what Argentina is about, they are very passionate but so are we. Sometimes they are more expressive, whereas the Anglo-Saxon mentality is a bit more closed, not so outwardly passionate.
"But we are pride ourselves on our passion as an English team. If you look at the team around us, every time I come out I feel privileged to be with the guys in an England shirt because there's so much talent."
Haskell will start opposite Leguizamon at openside flanker with Nick Easter back at number eight, having missed England's final World Cup warm-up win against Ireland with a calf injury.
England's only other change is on the wing, where Delon Armitage starts ahead of Mark Cueto while scrum-half Ben Youngs will return to action from the bench after recovering from a knee injury. The England side features 10 World Cup debutants - one of whom, Manu Tuilagi, is playing only his third Test match. Mike Tindall, a veteran of England's 2003 World Cup triumph, captains the team in the continued absence of Lewis Moody.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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