Tom Croft has paid tribute to England’s team spirit after they battled to a 13-6 win against Scotland on Saturday.
A new-look England side overcame a 6-3 half-time deficit and a sustained Scottish onslaught to start life under Stuart Lancaster with a morale-boosting success.
And having been heavily criticized for the manner of their performances on the field and behaviour off it at the recent World Cup, Croft highlighted the squad’s determination to do their country proud at Murrayfield.
“We have spoken over the last couple of weeks about the sort of culture we want to instill; how we want to be seen and how we want to work for each other. I think that shone through immensely,” said Croft, who won Lions’ Test honours in 2009.
“It’s about boys coming in and wanting to play for the shirt. That should be the same whether it is your first cap or your 50th.
“Robbo [Chris Robshaw] was just superb captaining for the first time and every situation was managed well by Charlie [Hodgson] at 10 or Faz [Owen Farrell].
“There were a few guys that stepped up to win their first caps and they looked as though they had been playing in internationals for years, so we are very happy.”
England now prepare to take on Italy next weekend and Croft insists they will travel to Rome full of confidence having overcome a major first obstacle in Edinburgh.
And while the blindside flanker knows there are areas that will need improving ahead of the clash with the Azzurri, he says confidence will be high as they continue the defence of their 6 Nations crown.
“We are not getting ahead of ourselves because there is a tough test to come but it is a great start," added Croft.
“Attacking-wise, there are still some areas we need to work on but, in terms of setting a baseline for our defence and putting teams under pressure, we did very well…and we are delighted with the result.
“But Italy have shown how far they have come in the past few seasons and they turned France over last year. On their day, they can surprise anyone and it will certainly be another very physical confrontation.”