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Freddie Steward: England are prepared for aerial onslaught in 'treacherous conditions' at Murrayfield

(Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Freddie Steward has been honing his aerial skills in anticipation of the kicking onslaught Scotland are expected to unleash in treacherous conditions at Murrayfield on Saturday.


Injury-ravaged England open their quest to wrestle the Guinness Six Nations from Wales with a banana skin fixture that is set to be played out in swirling winds and heavy rain.

Steward has excelled in his five caps as Eddie Jones’ first choice full-back but the 21-year-old knows he has yet to experience a setting like a hostile Murrayfield where his ability under the high ball will be tested by the elements as well as the boots of Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg.

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“It’s been quite breezy in camp this week so we’ve been able to replicate the weather without even trying,” Steward said.

“But we’ve also had a couple of buckets of water to dunk the balls in during training,

“The boys have been brilliant practising as a back three. We’ve been working on those high balls.

“The nines have been brilliant, testing us with all sorts of kicks and George Ford has been putting up his spiral bombs.”


Having lost Owen Farrell, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Jonny May and Anthony Watson to injury, England must confront a resurgent Scotland without several of their most experienced players.

A large portion of the team announced by Jones on Thursday morning will be making their Six Nations debuts so Steward’s Leicester team-mate Ben Youngs has been preparing the rookies for what to expect at a venue where he has never lost.

“I’m really looking forward to experiencing that atmosphere. I’ve grown up watching the Six Nations every year so running out at Murrayfield now would be a really cool experience,” Steward said.

“I’ve not played for England away from Twickenham yet, so I’m really looking forward to the experience.


“The boys have talked a lot about the atmosphere, especially at Murrayfield. It sounds incredible, so I’m really excited. I am nervous, but it’s not something I’m scared of.

“It’s something that’s very hard to replicate – that hostility from the crowd. It’s definitely going to be a new experience.

“We’ve been working really hard in the week trying to prepare ourselves mentally for that hostility and trying to make sure it doesn’t affect our performance.

“Ben Youngs was the man speaking about it the most. He’s a massively experienced player with England who has done it all.

“He spoke about what to expect, coming off the bus, the hostility of the environment. He mentioned the fans are quite far away from the pitch, and the difference that makes.

“He talked about his experience and how it could possibly affect us. We’ve got to do our best to block that out.”


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