Robinson: Fate could play into England’s hands

British & Irish Lions star Jason Robinson believes fate has forged a blend of old and new which can give England a winning start to their Six Nations challenge against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday. [more]

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British & Irish Lions star Jason Robinson believes fate has forged a blend of old and new which can give England a winning start to their Six Nations challenge against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

Robinson was in dazzling form for the Lions on their last tour to Australia and will almost certainly be in Sir Clive Woodward’s side to take on New Zealand, providing he stays clear of injury.

However, his first objective will be to lead England to Six Nations glory with Wales the first obstacle in their path.

Head coach Andy Robinson has gambled on the Newcastle centre pairing of 18-year-old Mathew Tait and Jamie Noon in the midfield, with Charlie Hodgson at fly-half in the continued injury absence of Jonny Wilkinson.

With the return of feisty scrum-half Matt Dawson following his exclusion from the autumn internationals for putting television commitments before England training, it is a backline which excites former rugby league flyer Robinson.

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"A lot of people have retired and we have a lot of people out injured," he said.

"We do have new faces in the team which is great. They’ll get their opportunity and I’m sure they’ll do a good job but it’s good to have experience too.

"Matt Dawson has come in and he has got a lot of experience and that will count on Saturday, and we’ve got guys like Danny Grewcock and Ben Kay and myself. We’ve got a good mixture of experience and youth."

Tait, however, is the man who has captured all the attention.

While Robinson is reluctant to heap even more pressure on such immature shoulders, he admits to being a huge admirer of the Newcastle threequarter.

"He’s been playing outstanding rugby for his club. He’s got a lot of pace, he’s confident, he’s a strong lad," said the Sale Sharks star.

"I remember my first international fixture, it was a massive thing. But for him the atmosphere is going to be great, playing against Wales in one of the best stadiums in the world. Hopefully we will see a star born.

"Obviously there will be nerves. The main thing is to go out and play the way he has been playing and enjoy it and not let the atmosphere get the better of him."

Robinson insisted there would be no underestimating a Welsh side which has not beaten England since the Grand Slam-busting match at Wembley in 1999, but which did embarrass them in the first half of the World Cup quarter-final 14 months ago.

"We’ve done our homework, we know what they are all about. They’ve made comments about exciting and entertaining the crowd but the main thing for us is just winning the game," said Robinson.

"The main thing about England is our strength in depth. We believe we have got a team to beat Wales."

Meanwhile, flanker Lewis Moody was forced to sit out training with a hamstring niggle. He was scheduled to have a fitness test with Sale’s Chris Jones standing by.

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