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Sheridan remains focused on the here and now
PA Sport
October 2, 2007

Andrew Sheridan terrorised the Australian front-row at Twickenham two years ago and England would love a repeat performance from their smiling assassin on Saturday.

Sheridan though, is refusing to bask in past glory as England prepare for a World Cup quarter-final showdown with the Wallabies at Stade Velodrome.

The 28-year-old gained rave reviews following his one-man wrecking job on Wallaby props Al Baxter and Matt Dunning.

It was the defining moment of Sheridan's 17-cap Test career to date, as he left his calling card with an Australian side he has not played against since.

The 6ft 4in, 19 stone Sale Sharks powerhouse is a giant pillar around which England will look to build a victory platform and extend their world title defence into another week.

But if England do not get it right in the set pieces there appears little hope of them threatening a Wallabies outfit hell-bent on avenging the 2003 World Cup final defeat in Sydney.

Sheridan is likely to oppose Wallabies tighthead Guy Shepherdson, with Dunning at loosehead and Baxter on the bench.

He said: ``I am not looking back on what happened a couple of years ago.

``It's about the here and now, and we will see what happens at the weekend.

``There is no point looking back and patting yourself on the back for what happened two years ago.

``We know we've got to put in a big performance, not just in the set pieces, but all over the park, to win this game.

``Their scrum seems very strong at the moment. From the games I've watched, they put a lot of work in, and I expect a big challenge.''

England have recovered encouragingly from the battering they took against South Africa 18 days ago, and Sheridan believes physically punishing back-to-back victories over Samoa and Tonga will benefit them as the tournament arrives at the business end.

He added: ``I think after the South Africa game we were disappointed at how badly we played.

``Against Samoa and Tonga there was some improvement and we hope we can take that on against Australia.

``There is an element of being battle-hardened in those games, and they don't come much more physical than the three teams we've played.

``I try to play as well as I can if I get the opportunity. Sometimes it happens, sometimes not, but I go away and work hard.

``I think the first scrum of every game is very important and you put a lot of emphasis on it.

``You have to be ready for the first engagement and the game at the weekend will be the same.''

Australia, meanwhile, have settled into their base near Marseille's picturesque old port, with head coach John Connolly due to unveil his starting XV on Thursday.

And Shepherdson is relishing the prospect of facing Sheridan in what could be the game's most significant individual contest.

Shepherdson said: ``I have watched him a lot and I am excited about scrummaging against him.

``England have done some damage to a lot of teams and that is the great thing about playing Test rugby, every game is a test and this game won't be any different.

``There are different ways each individual scrummages. He is a lot taller than a lot of the other props I've come up against. He's an enormous, huge man and a competitive scrummager.''

England head coach Brian Ashton is set to name his starting line-up tomorrow lunchtime.

Full-back Jason Robinson, who resumed training yesterday after more than a fortnight out nursing hamstring trouble, is likely to reclaim the number 15
jersey.

That could then mean Josh Lewsey moving to the wing, with an unfortunate Mark Cueto dropping out.

Ashton is likely to look closely at the inside centre position, where Olly Barkley produced an ineffective display against Tonga and was substituted early
in the second half.

Barkley's potent kicking game though, might earn him a reprieve, despite a strong challenge from Andy Farrell.

Up front, skipper Phil Vickery is poised for his first World Cup start since serving a two-match ban, while Ashton faces a potentially difficult choice between Simon Shaw and Steve Borthwick as Ben Kay's second-row partner.

And in the back-row, it could be a case of same again with Martin Corry, Lewis Moody and Nick Easter, provided Moody is declared fully fit, which would mean Lawrence Dallaglio missing out on a starting place for the fourth successive World Cup game.

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