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Johnson calls on English to believe the hype ahead of Wales opener

Martin Johnson demanded England live up to their own hype in tonight's opening Six Nations clash with Wales. England's players have spent all week talking of their new-found sense of attacking freedom after persuading Johnson to discard the tactical strait-jacket imposed on them in the autumn.

Johnson and attack coach Brian Smith recognised changes had to be made and set about redrawing England's gameplan -- to the delight of England's players. Full-back Delon Armitage said this week: "Having this freedom is going to be brilliant for us, everyone will be more relaxed and ready to play.

"As a back-three player, if you are given a licence to go, any player would tell you that is a golden key and I intend to use it. We've been promised good ball from the forwards and if we get that and use our pace then hopefully we can cause the Welsh some problems."

Johnson has named the boldest attacking team of his 18-month tenure, including the return of Mathew Tait who is making his first start at outside centre since the 2007 World Cup final.

But Johnson warned his men that all the talk of liberation and attacking rugby will mean nothing unless they deliver on the field tonight. "We have addressed the issues that we know we have had," said Johnson. We have been very honest about it as coaches and the players have been very honest about themselves as well.

"It has been good - but ultimately we need to turn that into a performance. It is important we understand what we are trying to do but, within that, we have good players and you have got to let them play with instinct. I am massively looking forward to it. This is a big season for us and a big year. We have put a lot of work into this game and we will get better game on game."

Wales winger Shane Williams believes Wales must prepare to meet an England side with "a point to prove" in today's Six Nations clash at Twickenham. Wales have arrived in southwest London seeking a fourth successive championship victory against their fierce rivals -- a feat they last achieved 30 years ago.

Both teams have lost key players to injury, with Wales missing front-row forwards Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees and England minus Riki Flutey's influential midfield presence.

This season's autumn Test form guide suggests there is little to choose between them, given that England and Wales both suffered home defeats to New Zealand and Australia.

It has been a testing week in the Welsh camp with concerns surrounding full-back Lee Byrne's availability before he had a two-week ban overturned, prior to Jenkins and Rees being sidelined.

"Twickenham is not the easiest place to go and win, and we respect what England will bring to the table," said Wales attack coach Rob Howley. "The repercussions of one side winning and one side losing will make for an interesting four or five weeks.

"I think we are at a stage in terms of our experience that it's time to deliver our game on Saturday, and likewise England, which is what makes it so fascinating."

WALES v ENGLAND, Today, Live RTE 2/BBC1 (KO 5.0)


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