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Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

England's Steve Thompson says Six Nations win is a must

Steve Thompson
Thompson has scored two tries this season for Leeds

Leeds Carnegie hooker Steve Thompson believes only victory is good enough for England in the 2011 Six Nations.

Thompson, currently in Portugal on an England training camp, told BBC Radio Leeds: "For England, the Six Nations is all about winning it.

"We have a pool of players that can win the Six Nations. That's what success will be for us.

The 32-year-old added: "We have a good squad and lots of players in good form, so we have no excuses."

England begin their campaign against Wales on Friday, 4 February with plenty to prove despite recent improved performances, and for all his 54 caps, former Northampton and Brive front-rower Thompson may feel the same.

He started the first autumn international against New Zealand, but was dropped to the bench for the following three November Tests as Northampton's Dylan Hartley produced a string of impressive performances.

"I was hoping to start more of those matches," said Thompson. "All I can do is my best and take my opportunity when it comes. I'm determined to keep playing my part.

"I'm very realistic about it all and know the whole squad has a big part to play.

"It's horses for courses, and perhaps when we come up against the big French team I might get a start against them and see what happens from there.

"Perhaps when you are younger and drop to the bench, you get a bit of a chip on your shoulder about it.

"But as an older guy I know it's about using my experience to help the guys and help the team."

Thompson's domestic form has flourished since the autumn. He entered the autumn internationals sharing the hooker's spot at Leeds with fellow British and Irish Lions hooker Andy Titterrell.

However Titterrell's knee injury in November has allowed Thompson to gain a regular starting berth.

A run of strong performances from the player has followed as the club's league fortunes have also improved.

Thompson even crossed for a try in the 16-13 defeat at Bath in early January.

"I think I'm going quite well and hitting good form," he said. "The line-outs have been the best I've ever thrown in my life.

"I'm at 94% with that and against Stade Francais I missed one, which was my first miss in about four months.

"Marco [Wentzel, Leeds captain and second-row] is the best line-out technician I have ever worked with at any level, anywhere in the world and that's helped me.

"Taking on a senior role at Leeds and helping both the younger hookers and other forward has been good to do and helped me too."

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