ENGLAND coach Andy Farrell refused to be drawn into a public war of words with Scotland ahead of the Calcutta Cup showdown at Twickenham.
But what happens behind closed doors is another matter altogether and Farrell insisted very strongly that England will be just as fired up as the Scots for their opening RBS Six Nations game.
Scotland’s interim coach Scott Johnson mocked England’s injury problems by saying: “That just leaves you with another 40,000 players to pick from, it’s a sad story.”
Johnson added that Scotland, “the poor little boy on the block”, would be ready to upset the party at Twickenham on February 2.
Farrell’s response to the Australian’s tongue-in-cheek comments was withering.
“It is funny, isn’t it? Very funny. Hilarious,” said Farrell, who made it clear England do not need to rise to that bait to be motivated.
“We are saying plenty of things behind closed doors!
“The last four games (between England and Scotland) have been won by an average of four points. That is the drop of a ball.
“It is because of the rivalry, the history. It’s a big game for all concerned.
“Talking to a few of the Scots, they feel they let Andy Robinson down and so they have a point to prove to themselves.
“We have to get good at being consistent and not worrying about Scotland.
“Obviously they come into it but we feel we have got a few things going, we know what starts to make us tick.
“We have been very hard to beat. The scorelines have always been close when we have lost but consistently winning with a top performance is what we are after.
‘‘We will be going all out to do that against Scotland. We still have to find that consistency and top-level performance.’’ England’s injury concerns centre upon Manu Tuilagi, who is battling to overcome an ankle injury which ruled him out of Leicester’s Heineken Cup win against Toulouse.
The England management are prepared to give Tuilagi until Tuesday to prove his fitness, such is his importance to the side.