England v France
Parling: It's time we won something tangible
Tom Hamilton
March 20, 2015
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Players/Officials: Geoff Parling
Tournaments/Tours: Six Nations
Teams: England

Geoff Parling has emphasised the need for England to win something tangible in a World Cup year as they head into the Six Nations-defining weekend.

Parling missed England's first three matches with a knee injury but was included on the bench for last Saturday's win over Scotland at Twickenham. He ended up playing the last 30 minutes and was hailed by Stuart Lancaster post-match for his impact and has since earned a start for Saturday's match against France.

England head into the final day of the Six Nations with a superior points difference of four over Ireland and 25 over Wales. By the time England kick-off their match against France they will know exactly what is needed for them to lift their first title in four years.

Ending the championship victorious was a goal set by England players prior to the start of the Six Nations. "We know there is a lot of pressure on it and we shouldn't hide away from that," Parling said. "We said at the start of the tournament: we have got to win it. We've come 2nd 3 years running. We messed up a bit 2 games again, but we've got a chance here to put things right and win it. These are the games you want to play in, the games you want to show your character as a player, as a pack, as a team."

For Parling, his goals will be both personal and collective. He will partner Courtney Lawes in England's second-row and will come up against Alexandre Flanquart and Yoann Maestri. He will have analysed their respective strengths and weaknesses during the build up but is all too aware of the perennial nature of French unpredictability.

"They can frustrate the fans or delight them," Parling said of France. "If you watch their games in this tournament I think they're relying on their pack to build a solid foundation, certainly they did against Italy, and then probably relying on a bit of broken field, someone to do something fantastic or magical.

"That's why I think the start's going to be key - the first 20 minutes, probably more so than other games because they probably haven't played particularly well in this tournament, not as well as they would have liked, but they've still done okay.

"In the first 20 minutes if you let their pack get mentally on top, if you let them do something and then they score a try, then they're thinking 'hang on a moment it's going to be our day here'. Whereas if you get them down, if you frustrate them, if we can get our pack on top, their confidence will probably be pretty low."

When the full-time whistle is blown on Saturday's game, England will have just three matches until their World Cup opener against Fiji on September 18. For Parling, his fondest memory in an England jersey to date was their win over New Zealand in 2012. With that nearly two and a half years ago, he believes it is high time the team have some silverware to show for all their endeavours.

"It's important to win something tangible going into the World Cup, but the Championship is on the line on Saturday. How many players will get a chance to play in a game for the Six Nations? Not very many in their whole careers. I'm certainly just focusing on this game then going from there. And I'm sure the lads will be too."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Associate Editor of ESPNscrum.

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