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Rowntree calls for repeat from Sheridan
PA Sport
October 9, 2007

England scrum `doctor' Graham Rowntree has urged Wallabies wrecker Andrew Sheridan to issue a repeat prescription against World Cup semi-final opponents France next Saturday.

Sheridan and company arrived in Paris from Marseille - scene of their memorable quarter-final victory over Australia - last night.

And the focus is now firmly on stopping host nation France, whose thrilling 20-18 success against tournament favourites New Zealand lit up the competition.

Former Leicester prop Rowntree's work with the England scrum reaped huge rewards at Stade Velodrome, as a rampant red rose pack obliterated their
opponents.

And Sheridan's demolition of Wallabies tighthead prop Guy Shepherdson proved a headline-grabbing performance.

Rowntree said: ``Sheri's game has been developing nicely.

``The test of a player is to do it week in, week out, and he has to do it at the weekend.

``Players have to have the determination, and mentally they have to have the desire and focus.

``I think he would agree that he hasn't played at that level before for England.

``He has been desperately unlucky with injuries. He broke his leg against South Africa last December and then strained his hamstring before coming out here.''

England expect a far more powerful challenge from the French front row, with Rowntree admitting: ``If you are going to beat France, or a French club, you
have to take something out of their pack.

``They have a wily old pack, with players like Raphael Ibanez and Fabien Pelous, and the Stade de France on Saturday night will be a big old challenge.

While Sheridan rightly took the glory, lock Simon Shaw's display arguably confirmed his status as England's form forward of the tournament.

And England forwards coach John Wells said: ``I am not surprised (by Shaw's performance).

``He had an indifferent start to the season with Wasps last year, and his performance has improved game by game.

``Like in the Heineken Cup final against Leicester last season, he had a huge influence on the game.

``We have never had a natural replacement for Johnno (Martin Johnson). In terms of what he did, Simon had a tremendous game at the weekend.''

Coach Brian Ashton is likely to announce his starting line-up tomorrow - the same day as France boss Bernard Laporte declares his hand - and England
travelled north without reporting any major injury problems.

France's victory over New Zealand, though, underlined how the host nation have gathered momentum since their opening-day defeat against Argentina.

And with the majority of a capacity 80,000 crowd roaring on Les Bleus, England know a successful Webb Ellis Trophy defence will require a colossal display.

Wells added: ``We all have pictures in our head of how France play, but they are also a pragmatic team.

``But if we were grumpy and horrible last weekend it has worked because we won, so I want us to be grumpy and horrible this weekend.''

England's defence also came in for considerable praise after Australia were restricted to a first-half Lote Tuqiri touchdown.

And it was all a far cry from the way South Africa cut them to shreds barely three weeks ago, inflicting a record 36-0 World Cup defeat on England in the
process.

Defence coach Mike Ford said: ``I think we have steadily built on our performance from day one. Everybody has agreed it has got better and better, and
we hope to improve on Saturday.

``France have a bit more structure and less flair than normal, and I have no doubt that defence won the game for France against New Zealand last Saturday.

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