The champions put their opponents on notice there will be a belligerent approach to their title defence over the next eight weeks. Far from being the side to be shot at, they want to be the ones doing the shooting.
That comes as music to the ears of Kruis, who is hell-bent on bringing his marauding game back to centre stage in this championship after a disappointing personal 2017 for England when he played just one Test.
“We’ve set our standards very high and we want to stick to them. We’re trying to be as innovative as possible and push the boundaries of what we can do,” said Kruis.
“If you look at the rugby some of the guys are playing at the moment, it is really good and I have to be matching that or bettering it. That’s the challenge. It’s exactly what England want and it’s exactly what I want as well. Competition for places pushes the squad on.
“Whenever you don’t get selected, it makes you assess the situation. Definitely I want to be playing those games and stuck in the middle of the group.
“It has been a bit tough for me but the good players can come back from that and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.
“I feel that maybe I was playing below my best. Form covers lots of things and I had an extended period of injury before with three or four ops in a year which never helps the situation.
“I’d like to think I’ve been playing where I want to be in the last couple of weeks. I’m just excited to be back with the group and cracking on with it.”
He is excited too by the emotive talk of chasing down and finishing off opponents, delivered at the squad’s Algarve training base, which signifies the up-and-at-’em approach England want to bring to the upcoming championship.
“It’s all encapsulated by a word like hunting. It’s an embodiment of what we’re trying to achieve,” said defence coach Paul Gustard.
“We want a hunting mentality in this Six Nations. We want to go after teams, stamp our authority on them and dominate them. That obviously starts with a successful performance against Italy.
“We want to hunt teams in every aspect. We want to put them under pressure and strive to be the best team in the world.
“We’re not going out to retain the title; we’re going out to get it. That’s the kind of mindset the players have adopted and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb could have played his last Test after being ruled out of the championship.
The Ospreys scrum-half, who becomes ineligible when he joins Toulon in the summer, was released from the squad with a knee injury which will require surgery and replaced by the uncapped Blues No9 Tomos Williams.
Scarlets will stage their European Champions Cup quarter-final against La Rochelle on home turf with the capacity at Parc y Scarlets temporarily raised to the minimum 15,000 for the tie which will be played on Good Friday, March 30, at 5.30pm.
Saracens, who confirmed wing David Strettle will be returning to the club from Clermont next season, will play Leinster at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Easter Sunday, April 1, at 3.30pm.
Source : EXPRESS