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Flood tips England to fight back

Toby Flood (inset) insists England will emerge from the wreckage of their failed Grand Slam bid a stronger side.

England's hopes of a Six Nations clean sweep were crushed by Ireland in the 24-8 win in Dublin on Saturday.

Martin Johnson's men were crowned champions but the trophy was of scant consolation after such a disappointing performance and emphatic defeat.

"This will hurt for a long time," said the Leicester fly-half. "Sometimes it is the darkest and difficult moments that bring you together. We will have to use this as a catalyst to drive us forward."

Johnson insisted the team will come back stronger when they regroup in the summer for their World Cup bid.

"It is a fantastic launch pad as we head towards the World Cup," he said. "We got ourselves to 4-0 and could not quite finish it off. We will come back and be a better team the next time we play."

Pressure 'will boost Wales'

Warren Gatland has admitted Wales sometimes struggle under the weight of expectation they put on themselves.

But the Wales coach does not want that approach to disappear as he reflects on a third successive Six Nations campaign when his team finished outside the top three.

Wales' 28-9 defeat to France in Paris condemned them to their heaviest tournament loss since 2006 and Gatland said: "We have struggled sometimes with the expectation that we've grown ourselves.

"That is something that we need to continue to do to grow as a team. We will hopefully keep putting ourselves under pressure. We seem to thrive on the underdog tag or when we've been heavily criticised.

"It's probably one of the closest Six Nations that we've had for a long time, which is hugely positive for this tournament going forward.

Wales, meanwhile, have closed ranks on an alleged incident involving defence coach Shaun Edwards.

"That is an internal matter that I am not prepared to discuss in public," said Gatland when asked why Edwards was absent from the game in Paris.