Sheridan: We must respect Wallaby scrum
November 9, 2010
Andrew Sheridan prepares for Saturday's Cook Cup clash against Australia © Getty Images
Andrew Sheridan insists that the England scrum will not allow any complacency to creep into their mindset ahead of their clash with Australia.
Sheridan played a crucial role at loose-head prop as England's tight-five caused New Zealand severe problems in the set piece at Twickenham on Saturday, and it was England's power up front that almost sparked a comeback for Martin Johnson's side. New Zealand held on 26-13, but England's supremacy at scrum time will have caused huge concerns within the Australia camp, whose own pack continues to falter.
Despite the return of props Ben Alexander and Benn Robinson, Australia were dominated in the tight by Wales in Cardiff on Saturday and only escaped with a victory thanks to their brilliance in the backline. But Sheridan, who was not part of the England scrum that dominated the Wallabies during the summer, maintains that England will not take the Australian scrum lightly.
"It is an area of the game we always concentrate on and put a lot of attention on ourselves to make sure that we are doing our own jobs and responsibilities well," Sheridan told ESPNscrum. "But come Saturday, you never know exactly what is going to happen so you focus on yourselves.
"He [Alexander] has got quite a lot of experience now so it is important that we have a lot of respect for them but at the same time concentrate on our own scrum and try to do as well as we can.
"It would be really good if we can get a win obviously but we have three matches left and it would be good if we can get some momentum leading into the final two. But we are under no illusions that we have a team that are ranked number two and considerably higher than and it's going to be a really difficult challenge for us.
"With the nature of having four games in four weeks you just have to get on with the next game in hand. There was obviously a lot of disappointment and frustration from the NZ match but we have a very big challenge again this week."
England's only change to the side that was beaten by New Zealand comes in the front row with Dylan Hartley coming in for Steve Thompson at hooker. Thompson was selected in the opening match due to his superior scrummaging, but Hartley has been rewarded for the dramatic impact he made after coming on as a substitute against the All Blacks. And Sheridan believes Hartley's all-round ability will bring an added dimension on Saturday, especially in the loose.
"We are fortunate that we have some very strong hookers in the squad," he said. "Dylan has an excellent all round game and I'm looking forward to playing alongside him. He carries the ball very well so hopefully we will be able to get the ball in his hands as much as possible."
Sheridan made his long-awaited return to international rugby against New Zealand last weekend after a shoulder injury, sustained in October 2009, derailed his England career. And the Sale Sharks prop believes the introduction of younger players, such as Hartley, Dan Cole, Ben Youngs, Chris Ashton and Courtney Lawes, has injected a youthful exuberance and lifted the atmosphere of the squad.
"We have got a lot of good young players coming through and they've made it a very upbeat atmosphere," he said. "So I think everyone is very ambitious and looking forward to do as well as they can. When the younger guys come into the squad they do have a great deal of enthusiasm, that isn't to say that some of us older lot haven't but it is just good to have that blend to the mix. It's nice to be back involved after so long out and it's a step up in pace and hopefully I can keep trying to improve."
Cole established himself as England's premier tight-head on the summer tour Down Under and also impressed against the All Blacks last weekend - a pack England's scrum coach Graham Rowntree rates as the best in the business - and he is relishing another contest with Australia.
"They have their number one front row back so they will be a different challenge from the summer, there will be a better set-piece and they will take the game to us and that is what we want," said Cole. "I was pleased with my performance against the All Blacks and we won the penalty count at the scrum - but we lost the game. You'd rather get the result."
Tickets for the Investec International match between England and Samoa on Saturday 20 November at Twickenham are available from £25 for adults and £10 for under 16s via www.rfu.com/tickets or by calling 0844 8472492.
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