Johnno expects a hostile welcome

Lions legend Martin Johnson has warned his English charges that they will enter one of the most hostile environment is the RBS 6Nations when they visit Cardiff on Friday. [more]

Johnno expects a hostile welcome

Lions legend Martin Johnson has warned his English charges that they will enter one of the most hostile environment is the RBS 6Nations when they visit Cardiff on Friday.

The three-tour and former Lions captain has described the atmosphere in the Welsh capital on match-day's between the old enemies as one of the most intense in rugby.

And he is hoping his side can thrive upon the famous Welsh atmosphere as they look to kick-off their campaign with a bang as a World Cup edges closer.

"Being an Englishman in Cardiff on that weekend means you aren’t the most popular, which is great. I’d rather have that than polite indifference," said Johnson.

"But the Millennium is a great place to play – the most hostile in the Six Nations for an Englishman.

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"The stadium being in the middle of Cardiff, it's all very tight with a good bus journey. They want to beat England at rugby, that's no secret and we want to win down there.

"This will be the last competitive competition before the World Cup this year and a good performance here could lead to a better performance there.

"It's a great occasion for an Englishman to go to Cardiff and play. The opening game of the Six Nations in a World Cup year adds something. You have to enjoy it, you want to play in the big games and we have to be ready."

It was the prospect of crunch encounters like England versus Wales that persuaded Chris Ashton to make the switch from rugby league in 2007.

The Northampton wing has taken British rugby by storm in recent seasons and hit the headlines for his length of the field touchdown during England's autumn triumph over Australia.

He has been tipped to establish himself as one of British rugby's most potent attacking threats and could be in-line to make the trip down under for the 2013 Lions tour.

"It was a massive part of my decision," said Ashton. "This doesn't happen in rugby league, you don’t get these kind of games. It’s massively exciting and I can’t wait.

"Listening to what Johnno says, I’m just so excited about the prospect. We didn’t get a good start in the autumn, when we let ourselves down against New Zealand. We don’t want to do that again.

"We don’t want a slow start and this is the perfect chance and place to get going."

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