London – England captain Chris Robshaw has told his team-mates there will be “no room for error” when they begin the 2014 Six Nations Championship away to France on Saturday.
But the Harlequins flanker believes this weekend's match at Paris's Stade de France is just the sort of clash England must win if they are to both improve on last season's Championship runners-up spot and underline their credentials as serious contenders for next year's World Cup on home soil.
England coach Stuart Lancaster is set to unveil a rookie backline when he names his side on Thursday but Robshaw was in no mood to make any excuses.
Two years ago, England – in Lancaster's first season as coach of the national side – defied many forecasts to beat France 24-22
in Paris, outscoring their hosts three tries to one.
But the situation is much changed now with England expected to impress against a France side who finished bottom of the Six Nations last year.
“There is more pressure on us this time and we also expect from each other,” Robshaw said Wednesday.
“Every time we meet up we want to be better,” he added.
“The standards are a lot higher than they used to be, whether that's being driven by the players or the coaches. We want to achieve.
“We have always spoken quite honestly and said 'we are improving tournament by tournament' and as individuals that is what we want to do.
“We are not in a building stage any more, we want to go on and be successful.
“To be successful you have to go to places like the Stade France Ä a tough environment with a hostile crowd Ä in a first-up encounter and hit the ground running. There can't be any room for error.
“A win would be massive. It would get us off to the best possible start.
“Going into a hard and challenging environment and getting a result is always impressive.”
The uncapped duo of Jack Nowell and Luther Burrell are set to start for England on the right wing and outside centre respectively, with likely left wing Jonny May capped just the once and inside centre Billy Twelvetrees a 'veteran' of eight Tests.
But the match is likely to be decided up front where England's forwards will find themselves up against a heavyweight France pack.
“France have a big, heavy pack and a very dangerous back line,” said Robshaw.
“It's going to be a very physical encounter, there's no hiding from that, and both sets of forwards will want to lay down a marker early on.
“We have an idea of what's in store, but you never know quite what to expect with France and we have to be ready to adapt to that.” – Sapa-AFP