Wales v England, Six Nations, Millennium Stadium, February 4
Tindall will back Hartley all the way
ESPNscrum Staff
February 3, 2011
England centre Mike Tindall throws a pass during training, England training session, Pennyhill Park Hotel, Bagshot, England, February 2, 2011
Mike Tindall has vowed to back Dylan Hartley © Getty Images

England skipper Mike Tindall has promised that they will back hooker Dylan Hartley every step of the way when they take on Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night.

The Saints No.2 has felt the full glare of the media in the build-up to the tournament opener after being labelled a choker by Wales boss Warren Gatland.

Hartley responded to the Kiwi's latest 'grenade' with talk of preparation and motivation and Tindall has vowed to adopt an "all for one, one for all" attitude come kick-off.

"You have got to support your players. If anyone has a pop at one player they are having a pop at the team," Tindall said. "That is how we have to respond as a team, get behind each other and go out there to solve the problem.

"Dylan is a good enough professional to understand what is going on. I expect a big game out of him and hopefully the boys will rally around and put in the same performance for him.

"It is always a fierce rivalry and that is the way it should be. We are going to honour that by playing hard rugby on the field."

Tindall believes that collective spirit is one of the key factors behind England's improvements over the last year. Two victories over Australia headlined their recent strides and they are now being tipped for a first Six Nations title since 2003.

"Everyone has bought into how we are trying to run England rugby. Everyone gets on, everyone bonds together really well. It sounds a small thing but it makes a massive difference," Tindall said. "That translates to people fighting that bit harder for the guy next to them. In those pressure situations it makes a difference."

England have not won a Test in Cardiff since 2003 and Tindall is the only remaining member of the starting XV to have left the Millennium Stadium with a victory.

"Wales have enough individuals to cause you problems. If we turn up there and play our game we believe we can win. That is the challenge for us," he said. "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."

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