Jonny May admits England would be “devastated” if they fail to build on their enthralling victory over France by toppling Ireland.
Eddie Jones’ side head to Dublin for the climax to their Championship with a spring in their step after displaying resilience and flair to dispatch Les Bleus 23-20 at Twickenham.
Losses to Scotland and Wales meant their title defence had been shattered by round three and they will equal their worst Guinness Six Nations performance if they fall to Ireland on Saturday.
There was so much to admire against France – heavyweight opposition and tournament favourites until England intervened on Saturday – that May insists must be used as a springboard.
“We got it all together for the France game – we got a performance and the win. It feels good because you want to fire some shots,” the Gloucester wing said.
“But I’m very much still aware that there’s still one more game to go. If we don’t back it up then I’m going to be devastated and so are the boys.
“It was a moment of relief against France because all of us have worked hard and we felt the pressure we put on ourselves internally and all the pressure that has come on to us from outside and wanting to make people proud and happy.
“That’s why it was an important win for us, but that’s also why it is important for us to back it up.
“We have been going through a tricky spell, but belief never goes – certainly not for me because I know how good this team is. But you certainly feel the pressure.
“Progress is never a straight line, that’s a fact. We hit a bump in the road but I am proud of how the boys have responded and got hold of it. But we still need to push forward this weekend.”
England laboured through the autumn, their kicking, set-piece and defence underpinning a successful campaign that produced few thrills, but they hit the buffers against Scotland as the Six Nations was launched with a calamitous Calcutta Cup defeat.
It proved to be a pivotal moment for the soon to be dethroned champions, who came to the conclusion that the players needed to be released from their straitjackets.
“The Scotland game was a line in the sand for us. It shined a light on the fact that our attack wasn’t good enough and we had to own it,” May said.
“What’s changed since then is we’ve got hold of it as a group. The attitude’s changed in terms of making it a bit simpler.
“Essentially the attitude of wanting to get the ball in your hands, wanting to take people on, wanting to work hard to offer yourself. All very simple things.
“We were probably overcomplicating it, overstructuring it, overthinking it and off the back of that we weren’t doing the simple things that allow you to attack properly.
“The players have got hold of it a bit more because we needed to. There’s always a balance. It’s like Goldilocks and the porridge… you want just the right amount.
“You don’t want too much information because that will fry your brains, but you don’t want not enough.
“Where are we at with our attack now? We’ve got a little bit less information and a bit more do. Before, we were probably not enough do and too much information.”