England forwards coach Graham Rowntree on Tuesday warned Wales that his side have learnt the lessons from their one-sided Six Nations defeat in Cardiff a year ago.
England and Wales face off at Twickenham on Sunday, with the two sides level on four points in the Six Nations table ahead of the final two rounds of matches.
England crashed to a 30-3 defeat at the Millennium Stadium in last year’s title decider, with the visitors’ forwards overwhelmed by their Wales counterparts, but Rowntree says his side are now a different proposition.
“That game hurt. It’s well documented how much that hurt me and the forwards,” he told a press conference. “We have come a long way from that because we have learnt from it. I said at the time it was important that we capture the lessons from that game.”
“It’s driven us on. The intensity their forward pack brought to that game is something we are striving to match. I think we have shown we can do it, but we have got to do it consistently,” Rowntree says.
With Billy Vunipola having suffered an ankle injury in England’s 13-10 win over Ireland, Gloucester’s Ben Morgan is due to start in the back row against Wales and Rowntree has backed him to impress.
“Ben has made significant progress in the six weeks he’s been with us,” said Rowntree, 42, who won 54 caps at prop for England.
“He’s worked hard on his game and on his conditioning, and has been very good coming off the bench. I have every faith if we pick him to start at eight. I love working with him. He’s a pleasure to coach. The way he is going and his attitude means I’m excited about seeing him,” Rowntree said.
“He’s very similar to Billy in terms of raw horsepower. He has a nice blend in his game, like Billy — offloading, passing game, defending game,” he added. “For a big man he’s very good at quickly getting off the floor post-tackle. He is a lineout threat and has a good brain as well.”