Six Nations: Freddie Steward claims the England squad stayed tight following record loss to France

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Freddie Steward insists the England squad has stayed tight in the wake of their record loss to France.

England had a difficult day at the office last weekend as Les Bleus scored seven tries to hand the Red Rose their heaviest defeat at Twickenham.

Difficult challenge ahead

The task only gets more challenging for Steve Borthwick’s men, who travel to Dublin to face Ireland, a team that looks odds on to claim the Grand Slam on St Patrick’s weekend.

Steward admits the France loss was difficult to take but claims the team has stuck together.

“Saturday was pretty bleak and I’d like to think that from there the only way is up and that we’ll improve,” he said.

“Grief is a pretty good way to describe it. It’s never nice to lose, but then to lose by a margin like that is pretty sore.

“The most frustrating thing is that we had ourselves to blame and there’s no shying away from that.

“At times like this you don’t want to splinter off because then the wheels would fall off. We’re in a good spot at the minute because we’ve stayed tight.

“As (defence coach) Kevin Sinfield has said to us, these weeks define teams. When you go to the depths that we did, that’s where you really challenge yourselves to pull together and come up with something.

“Hopefully we’ll look back on this when we regather in a couple of months’ time as a real point where we stepped up and improved.”

England lost duo Ollie Lawrence and Ollie Chessum to injury, which could open the door for Manu Tuilagi to make his first appearance of the 2023 Six Nations.

“Like having another coach around”

Alongside Tuilagi, George Ford has also been retained in the wider squad and Steward praised the fly-half for how he contributes to the team.

“It’s almost like having another coach around. He’s so insightful – in meetings and on the pitch,” Steward said.

“His understanding of the game is second to none and the way he reads the game is incredible.

“He’s one of those players that I always mention when people ask about the best players I’ve played with. I’d always put Fordy up there.

“From the outside looking in, I don’t think people really understand how good he is. Because of the small things he does, you almost have to be playing alongside him to actually understand what he does for everyone else.”

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