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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 February 2007, 18:51 GMT
Josh Lewsey Q&A

Josh Lewsey
Josh Lewsey
England wing

Josh Lewsey will again play on the wing for England as they prepare for the eagerly-anticipated game with Ireland on Saturday.

He took time out from his training schedule to answer some of your questions.


As an Englishman living in Ireland, I wonder how aware the England team is about the significance of the fixture being played at Croke Park? The furore here surrounding playing God Save The Queen has been incredible.
Matt

The first thing to say is that it is very exciting. It is a massive honour for all of us to be involved in such an occasion. But it shouldn't be forgotten that we are there as sportsman and we are playing a sport.

Conor O'Shea spoke to the lads this week about where the stadium stands in the hearts of the Irish people and we are very aware of the symbolism of playing at Croke Park and are very respectful as a result of that.

I am aware of the history with my military background so I am immensely privileged to have this opportunity.

How significant is Ireland losing against France. Will the England camp be mindful of an Irish backlash?
Will Ward

I wanted Ireland to win against France on three levels.

Firstly, I felt they deserved to win and secondly I got to know a lot of Irish lads on the Lions tour and they are a great set of guys. I have an enormous amount of respect for them both on and off the field.

Thirdly, you know that if they did lose then potentially you were going to have the backlash.

We know we are up against it. Ireland are strong favourites, deservedly so, but we are going to go there and do our best.

How much do you think England have to improve against Ireland following the games against Scotland and Italy, especially with how the Irish played against France?
Mel

We are playing a seriously world-class outfit so we need to step up significantly if we going to win. Ireland were pre-tournament favourites, they lost against France admittedly, but that does not make them any less of a team.

Our execution needs to be better. We allowed Italy to play at their pace and dictate the tactics and the tempo of the match.

On Saturday we are up against one of the mostly tactically astute players in the world in Ronan O'Gara. He is very good at pushing the right buttons at the right time.

If you let Ireland set their rhythm then you are in for a very long and tiring afternoon. We want to play our game.

Given that both you and Brian Ashton have emphasised that the Italian game was only your second playing as a team, and success in the Six Nations is important as a springboard for the World Cup, are club commitments making this challenge a lot harder?
Bob Robinson

You can answer that in two ways. On a physical level it is a disadvantage that most of the players did not get a rest last weekend. But you can also argue whether it has the same negative effect mentally - some players like playing week in week out.

You don't necessarily need to beat each other up to get the benefit out of training so we certainly will not use it as an excuse.

The clubs have done an enormous job to take forward our level of professional rugby and, in an ideal world, England and the clubs would work together.

What do you do between international matches to switch off and relax?
Helen Johnston

Last week we were back at the clubs playing another game! I like spending time with my dogs and my fiancÚ and I like getting a bit of normality.

I have a bit of work outside rugby so I enjoy switching off from it as much as possible. You switch on when you are playing or in training but you can only bring that intensity if you are relaxed the rest of the time.

With Matt Dawson doing Strictly Come Dancing and Kyran Bracken taking part in Dancing on Ice, are we likely to see you donning Lycra and sequins soon?
Quentin

Absolutely, 100% no! It is not my cup of tea.

I've heard that your nickname amongst Premiership players is Smeagol, after the character in Lord of the Rings. So my question is, which other England players have great nicknames and what's the story behind them?
Bob

There are quite a few nicknames, Joe Worsley for example is 'melon head' just for the sheer size of his cranium.

My general nickname is not Smeagol, only Andy Gomarsall calls me that. I shared a room with him for three months at the last World Cup and he feels I can do a reasonable impression of Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

So he calls me Smeagol and I call him Finchy from 'The Office'.

Over recent years, union has recruited a number of league players and coaches. What do you feel union has to learn from the 13-a-side code?
Mark Wainwright

The 13-a-side code has gone through various phases, as union has done. You look at English rugby five years ago it was very physical and confrontational but we lacked the creativity and the skill level.

We have now gone back to mixing the two. We need to mix the physical element with guile, spatial awareness and skill to put people away. It's only by blending the two can you really be world class.

You are such an integral part of the Wasps team how do you cope if Wasps are playing badly when you are on England duty?
Shelley Blane

I am not sure I am an integral part of the team, I certainly do not consider myself as such.

You just speak to the lads and get a feel for what is going on. There are certain things you can and can't control, especially as a back-three player. I do what I can when I am there but it is difficult to do that when you are not.

What did you gain from your time in the Army and to what extent has it helped you in your rugby career? Did it make you more disciplined, more aware of the value of teamwork, etc?
Rob McGill

None of those things really. You understand certain elements in terms of personality and you realise what people's strengths are on a leadership level.

With regard to how it affects rugby, maybe it makes you realise that there is a big world out there and keeps your feet on the ground. You don't forget how lucky we are to get paid for playing sport.

If you would like to ask Josh a question during the course of the Six Nations, fill in the form at the top right of this page.
















 

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SEE ALSO
Chuter wary of Croke Park factor
22 Feb 07 |  English
Ashton wants England improvement
20 Feb 07 |  English
Ireland 17-20 France
11 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union
England 20-7 Italy
10 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union
England 42-20 Scotland
03 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union


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