ENGLAND cannot afford another slip-up, admits Wasps’ James Haskell after they were beaten by an injury-hit Wales at Twickenham.
After picking up maximum points in their Rugby World Cup opener against Fiji, Stuart Lancaster’s side were overturned by Wales in dramatic fashion on Saturday night.
Wasps flanker Haskell was on the pitch when a converted Gareth Davies try levelled the scores at 25-25 before Dan Biggar’s long-range penalty sealed it.
That leaves the Red Rose three points behind both Wales and Australia with two games to play and the Wallabies are up next.
Defeat on Saturday could put a premature end to England’s hopes of a second World Cup crown and Haskell has every intention of ensuring that is not the case.
“It is a do or die attitude for us now, but we have got to hope that this will bring the best out of us,” said the 30-year-old.
“It is knockout rugby for us from now on, really that is the only way for us to look at it.
“The guys will go away and whoever is involved next week will know that they are carrying the weight of the country on their shoulders to get that victory.
“If I’m involved I think it will be the biggest game of my career. We’re obviously playing the World Cup in our country. We wanted to go to the final, it has been a setback, but it just makes us more hungry to go on and improve.”
England could be left sweating on the fitness of Billy Vunipola, Courtney Lawes and Ben Youngs ahead of the weekend.
But there is some good news in that Coventry-born flanker Tom Wood has been cleared to play after he was cited for striking Wales full-back Liam Williams on Saturday.
And Wasps star Joe Launchbury knows just how important the Australia game is.
He added: “It is going to be a big week for us mentally now. That’s the most important thing, to get back on page and focus on a really big week ahead.
“Every time we take the pitch we know we represent a lot of people, family and friends and the wider public as well. We take that extremely seriously.”
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