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Six Nations: England captain Tindall ready for Wales

2011 SIX NATIONS: WALES v ENGLAND
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Friday, 4 February Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One from 1930 (BBC Wales and Red Button from 1900); listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Wales; live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

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Tindall relaxed ahead of challenging year

Stand-in captain Mike Tindall insists he will maintain his laid-back approach ahead of England's richly anticipated Six Nations opener in Wales on Friday.

Tindall, who got the role with Lewis Moody out injured, says his leadership will reflect his usual preparation.

"I'm not going to try and change anything really from how I approach normal games," he told BBC Sport.

"I'm quite happy to talk before games anyway and we have a good senior player leadership here. So we all contribute."

England, managed by former World Cup-winning captain Martin Johnson, go into the 2011 Six Nations as the highest-ranked team in Europe and favourites to lift their first title since 2003 - and to win their first Test in Cardiff since 2003.

Gloucester centre Tindall - the only member of the starting XV to have left the Millennium Stadium with a victory - believes collective spirit is one of the key factors behind England's improvements over the last year.

"Everyone has bought into how we are trying to run England rugby," he added.

"Everyone gets on, everyone bonds together really well. It sounds a small thing but it makes a massive difference. That translates to people fighting that bit harder for the guy next to them. In those pressure situations it makes a difference."

England must enjoy pressure - Johnson

Expanding on his approach to matches, Tindall stressed that continuity could be key.

"During the week we [all] make sure we get what we need in training," he added. "Nothing's really going to change.

"We have got a lot of leaders in there with Nick Easter, and Steve Thompson on the periphery and Simon Shaw.

"The first game of the Six Nations at the Millennium Stadium is a massive deal, and there's quite a lot of boys who have never played there.

"[But] I'm relaxed all the time before games - and then we switch on. That's how I try to run mine [preparation].

"When we're off the field it's laughs and jokes, a bit of fun. When you walk into those changing rooms everything switches back on.

"Everyone's completely individual as to what they do. If you're one of those guys that needs to build tension up all week, then you have to let people manage themselves. But we'll need to make sure that everyone is switched on."

Tindall is confident England have learned from their experiences in the autumn Test, when a slow start proved costly in the 26-16 defeat against New Zealand before South Africa overpowered them with greater physicality for a 21-11 win.

"Wales have enough individuals to cause you problems," he said.

"If we turn up there and play our game we believe we can win. That is the challenge for us. Wales always have the ability to pull out massive performances when things go right for them.

"We have to expect that to happen.

"The first 20 minutes we have to get out there and put a stop on it before it gets going. We have to start well. If we can impose our game we will be in a strong place to control the game."

TOM FORDYCE'S BLOG

Northampton flanker Tom Wood will make his England debut on Friday while other changes, made because of injury, mean Louis Deacon comes into the second row as James Haskell - normally a blind-side flanker - is picked in the back row.

Haskell replaces Moody on the open-side, while Wood comes in for Tom Croft as Deacon replaces Courtney Lawes.

Other changes on the bench see Jonny Wilkinson, who missed the autumn Tests through injury, return in place of Charlie Hodgson and Joe Worsley take over from Hendre Fourie as cover for the back row.


England: B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), M Tindall (Gloucester, capt), S Hape (Bath), M Cueto (Sale Sharks); T Flood (Leicester Tigers), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), L Deacon (Leicester Tigers), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Wood (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (Stade Francais), N Easter (Harlequins).

Replacements: S Thompson (Leeds Carnegie), D Wilson (Bath), S Shaw (Wasps), J Worsley (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), J Wilkinson (Toulon), M Banahan (Bath).



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see also
Wales 19-26 England
04 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales admit Hook fly-half debate
03 Feb 11 |  Welsh
Hartley keen to silence Gatland
02 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Flanker Wood handed England debut
02 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales pick Hook in full-back role
02 Feb 11 |  Welsh
England primed for hot reception
31 Jan 11 |  English
England 11-21 South Africa
27 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union


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