England v Italy, Six Nations Championship, February 7
Tindall demands England raise their game
February 4, 2009
England's Mike Tindall looks on during an England training session, The Madejski Dome, Reading, England, February 3, 2009
Tindall insists England have it all to prove in this year's Six Nations © Getty Images

England veteran Mike Tindall is determined to help turn Twickenham back into the fortress it once was - starting with the Six Nations opener against Italy on Saturday.

Manager Martin Johnson has responded to England's autumn international thrashings by turning to experienced heads like Tindall, Andy Goode and Mark Cueto for the Six Nations and the Gloucester centre is determined to lead by example.

"Teams aren't coming out now and saying: 'The one team we want to beat in the Six Nations is England'. It is not like that anymore and we have got to understand that," said Tindall. "At the moment we need complete humility and complete respect for other teams and to go and get them.

"We shouldn't be thinking we are the best around at the moment because we haven't got the record to prove it. We are not top of the pile, we have to get back up there and we should have the hunger to go and get it.

"This is a hard time for English rugby. For players, it is a chance to be on the team to turn it around. This is a chance to start and turn Twickenham back into a fortress. That should be motivation for all the players and it is certainly motivation for me.

"We have had a tough time of it. We are not in a situation you would usually expect English rugby to be in and the challenge is to get back there."

Tindall was not involved in the autumn but he suspects England, with a side packed full of newcomers, tried to run before they could walk. That seems set to change this weekend. With Danny Cipriani dropped to the Saxons, Goode will provide a steady hand at fly-half while Cueto starts his first England game since the 2007 Rugby World Cup final.

"We have still got good enough players to go out and beat teams but we haven't performed," said Tindall. "You look around, we have Phil Vickery and Steve Borthwick and Nick Easter and myself. We have those senior players and it is down to us, in terms of training and playing, to get the standards that are expected throughout the squad.

"International rugby in some ways is simple - sometimes if you get your basics right that is all you need to win games. You don't need that X-factor. We have missed that a little bit. We maybe tried to run before we can walk.

"It was very hard for the players in November. In the New Zealand game they put in a massive amount of effort and got very little back for it. We need to harness that effort in a better way and hopefully we will learn from those things."

Tindall found himself in intensive care with a perforated liver following his last Twickenham appearance, against Wales in the opening game of last year's Six Nations. "I have missed playing at Twickenham. I love the big game day and there were never times I thought I wouldn't get back," he said. "I was disappointed when I wasn't included in the autumn but there are two ways of dealing with it. I always try to deal with personal setbacks in a positive way."

England scrum-half Danny Care will continue to undergo treatment on an ankle injury, with a final decision to be made on his fitness to face Italy tomorrow morning.

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