Henry Slade insists England are ready to deliver a performance of disciplined ferocity when they launch their Guinness Six Nations salvage operation against France.
Fabien Galthie’s tournament favourites visit Twickenham on Saturday with their coronavirus outbreak behind them and the Grand Slam in their sights.
England, meanwhile, were removed from title contention as early as round three when they collapsed against Wales as their debilitating indiscipline reached its nadir at the Principality Stadium.
The focus for the week has been eradicating avoidable penalties and Eddie Jones, assisted by officials Wayne Barnes and Matt Carley, has overseen training sessions that force players to respond intelligently to unfair refereeing decisions.
But while observing the importance of staying the right side of the whistle, Slade insists England must not lose the physical edge that is their hallmark.
“We’ve placed some individual responsibility on discipline. I know it’s been bit of a problem for us for a little while and we’ve been genuinely addressing it,” the Exeter centre said.
“But we have to couple that with our intent to attack the game. We’ve still got be on the edge, you can’t just go into your shells and play soft.
“You still have to be going for it and pushing the limits all the time, but just with the understanding that discipline is so key. Hopefully we’ll get on the right side of that.”
Defeats by Scotland and Wales mean the Six Nations title is beyond England’s reach and with challenging fixtures against France and Ireland to come, they occupy a precarious position.
A strong finish would ease the pressure on Eddie Jones and Slade insists a frustrating Championship can yet be rescued from calamity.
“A lot gets said on social media or in the press. If you’re going badly, you might be the worst team in the world. If you’re going well, you’re the best,” Slade said.
“We’re quietly confident in what we’re doing. We’ve been frustrated with this tournament because we’ve actually been improving and playing some good stuff.
“We are definitely looking to go as hard as we can during these next two weeks and put a smile back on people’s faces.
“We want everyone to be behind us and we’re working as hard as we can for that. Hopefully we can do the job.”
Giving Slade confidence that England are in a better place than their results indicate is the dynamism shown in attack against Wales, even if it was not enough to prevent a resounding 40-24 defeat.
“As the tournament has progressed we’ve got better. The performance against Scotland was nowhere near where we want to be,” Slade said.
“After that game we had a lot of honest conversations and people said what they want to say. We clarified a lot of things and we’ve definitely made a bit of a mindset shift.
“Sometimes our first option was to kick rather than to run and we’ve definitely shifted in the right direction in terms of having a more balanced game and wanting to take people on and run.
“We told ourselves to get genuinely excited about the opportunities we can put ourselves in to take people on.
“We just shot ourselves in the foot in that last 20 against Wales with our indiscipline. If we can sort that out we’re on to something good.”