Lancaster: England have to focus on the win first

England coach Stuart Lancaster says that Saturday’s final round Six Nations action is comparable with the Ryder Cup due to its dramatic conclusion.

The race for the Six Nations crown has been realistically reduced to three teams, with Wales and Ireland competing against England for the title on an afternoon of three staggered kick-offs — although France can also still finish top through an unlikely set of results.

Favourites England will conclude the schedule knowing the points target they must hunt down against France at Twickenham to end a sequence of three successive runners-up finishes.

Lancaster believes the golfing showpiece contested by Europe and the United States every two years is the only sporting occasion that can match the drama created by the Six Nations’ refusal to synchronise the last instalment of games.

“I can’t think of another situation in sport where you’d go into it with this points differential that can affect the psychology, so it is different from a World Cup,” Lancaster said on Friday.

“The only scenario I can think of that is similar is the final day of the Ryder Cup when you’re ahead or behind when the singles are coming.

“It’s that sort of feeling. It will tell us a lot about the players, but it is a pretty unique situation as well.”

England enter the final day with a points advantage of plus four over Ireland and +25 to Wales.

It is in the context of how Wales and then Ireland, who travel to Rome and Edinburgh respectively, perform that Lancaster must prepare his team.

“I have thought long and hard about the psychology of how you deal with your own players,” Lancaster said.

“There are only so many players who need to be involved in the key decisions. The rest of the players have been given a simple message — you go all-out for the win and you don’t stop until 80 minutes is up.

“The key to begin with is not to chase the game too early. We have to go out there to perform and win the game, then we’ll deal with whatever circumstances come along as we go.”

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