Phillips wary of England
Wales have chance to clinch Triple Crown at Twickenham
Last Updated: 24/02/12 1:15pm
Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips is wary of England
Mike Phillips believes Wales must shut out the external hype and hysteria surrounding their Triple Crown bid - or risk blowing hopes of a rare Twickenham win.
Wales find themselves in an unfamiliar position of heading to south-west London as firm favourites for an RBS Six Nations showdown with unbeaten rivals England.
They have triumphed only once at Twickenham since 1988 - when Phillips scored the winning try to kick-start a Grand Slam season - and the average scoreline during that largely barren run is comprehensively in England's favour.
Current form suggests a Wales victory, which would clinch a 20th championship Triple Crown and leave them requiring home successes against Italy and France next month to secure their second Six Nations title and clean sweep of coach Warren Gatland's reign.
Accompanying such billing, though, comes fever-pitch expectation west of the Severn Bridge that Wales will not only beat England, but rewrite the fixture's record book by surpassing their previous-best Twickenham winning margin of 12 points achieved in 1976.
It is potentially a dangerous trap to be snared by, especially as England are showing clear post-World Cup revival signs under the impressive Stuart Lancaster.
"People are quick to criticise, but I think it has been harsh. They (England) have had two good wins on the road, so they must have good belief and confidence in themselves. They are going to be firing - it is going to be a proper Test match."
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And scrum-half Phillips insists there is no danger of the Wales team being drawn into underestimating what awaits them Saturday afternoon.
"It is going to be a difficult game," said the 62 times-capped Bayonne star.
"They have won two games in the tournament, and people haven't been giving them much credit. We know they will be going out to prove people wrong.
"England might say themselves they haven't fired or clicked yet, but they are only one game away from possibly doing that. They have got some great players and they are a major threat.
"People are quick to criticise, but I think it has been harsh. They have had two good wins on the road, so they must have good belief and confidence in themselves.
"They are going to be firing - it is going to be a proper Test match."
Phillips is among only three starting line-up survivors from Wales' 2008 Twickenham triumph - prop Adam Jones and lock Alun-Wyn Jones are the others - yet the visitors still have a major edge in terms of experience.
England's 182-cap total is 16 fewer than the combined tally of Phillips, Jones and Jones alone, and that far greater collective nous should count for something amid an inevitable pressure cooker atmosphere at Twickenham.
"The good thing about this Wales team is that there are so many threats in the side," Phillips added.
"We are playing some good stuff, but at the same time I think we have left a lot of points out there in our games so far.
"There is always pressure, but I think you have got to push those things (Triple Crown) to the back of your mind and forget about all that kind of stuff.
"You just concentrate on the next play, the next scrum, the next lineout and knowing and doing your role. You can't think about end results, because that is where you start going wrong.
"We've got to forget about the newspapers and television and concentrate on our job. As soon as you start thinking about external things, you will start making mistakes.
"We can be confident from our last couple of performances, but we know we need to improve."