England’s Hughes seeks ‘big start’ in France Six Nations clash

England's Nathan Hughes in action against Australia at Twickenham in November 2017
AFP

London (AFP) – Nathan Hughes says England will be looking for a “big start” against France in the Six Nations on Saturday, desperate to bounce back from the defeat to Scotland that ended their Grand Slam hopes. 

The Wasps No.8, who returned from injury in the loss in Edinburgh, believes England need to come out of the blocks strongly against Les Bleus if they are to secure back-to-back wins in the French capital following their 2016 victory.

The defending Six Nations champions are second in the table after their shock 25-13 defeat against Scotland, with Grand Slam-chasing Ireland favourites to win the tournament.

Captain Dylan Hartley is a doubt for the game in Paris while Jack Nowell and Sam Underhill have been ruled out.

“Our mentality this week is to have a big start,” said the 26-year-old Hughes, who was born in Fiji.

“With France they’ve got big boys so if we can move them around in the early part of the game then that’ll be a big bonus for us, and (if we can) keep the scoreboard ticking.

“If we can create that big mountain for them to climb I think it will be quite hard for them to get back.”

There is rain forecast at the Stade de France this weekend for the clash between England and fifth-placed France, which Hughes said could be a factor.

“The weather is going to dictate the game so if it’s going to be a wet one then our forwards need to muscle up on their forwards and carry us around.

“We’re not going to make the weather change the way we want to play, we still want to play expansive, running rugby and for us to do that we need to be connected.

“We don’t want to change too much of our game — that’s why we’ve been doing heaps of skills and stuff like that to cope with whatever weather that comes.”

Although Hughes is not taking his selection for granted, he says the whole team are motivated to put things right after their defeat.

“I’ve got a lot of minutes into the legs so I’m ready to go if I get the nod to play this weekend,” he said.

“I’ll be raring to go really because of the performance when we lost in Scotland. We want to turn that around and go back to winning ways.”

.