DEFENSIVE mastermind Phil Larder has put England on full alert to beware the strike power of World Cup quarter-final opponents Wales.
England are hot favourites for a 12th win in the last 13 starts against Wales, taking them to Sydney next week and a probable semi-final appointment with fierce northern hemisphere rivals France.
But the Welsh have no intention of going quietly, especially after giving tournament favourites New Zealand a major fright in their final Pool D game last weekend.
Even though the odds are heavily stacked with an England side containing 10 Lions - and five more on the bench - there will be no hint of complacency.
"I was tremendously impressed with Wales' performance against New Zealand. Their performance took me by surprise," said Larder.
"The All Blacks defence is exceptionally solid, and Wales made many line-breaks and scored four outstanding tries. We will have to be on our best mettle.
"Wales surprised me, certainly with their strike-power. They made 10 line breaks against the All Blacks, and I don't remember any other team doing that in the last two or three years."
England have conceded only two tries in four matches during the competition - the best record of any country - and such a formidable defensive unit could ultimately prove too much for Wales.
'As always, our number one objective will be to keep our defence right up to scratch," said England head coach Clive Woodward.
"We conceded a a soft try against Uruguay last weekend, which we are disappointed with.
"We want to try and nil the Welsh team in terms of tries conceded. We want to defend well, but we've also really got to try and attack this team.
"In every game, there is a fear of failure, and every game there is pressure. But I think this team just plays better under pressure. The bigger the game, the better we play."
Woodward yes terday announced a team packed with experience, highlighted by prop Jason Leonard, who will win a world record-equalling 111th cap in his 14th year of Test rugby.
Elsewhere, fly-half Jonny Wilkinson reaches the 50-cap milestone, and Kyran Bracken will join him if he appears off the replacements' bench.
Leonard and Leicester flanker Lewis Moody, who fills the void left by hamstring injury victim Richard Hill, are England's only survivors from the side that crushed Wales 43-9 in a Millennium Stadium World Cup warmup game this summer.
Bracken is part of a powerful substitutes' contingent, alongside the likes of Mike Catt, Iain Balshaw and Simon Shaw.
Catt went to hospital for precautionary checks yesterday after being hurt in training, but he was given the all-clear, while Shaw makes England's 22 just a day after arriving Down Under as replacement for injured Bath captain Danny Grewcock.
Hill's injury continues to test the England medical team. He misses his fourth successive World Cup fixture.
"If we were to win on Sunday, then hopefully, Richard will be available for next weekend," added Woodward. "That's how we look at it, game by game.
Richard is probably more frustrated about it than anyone.
Fitness-wise, he's 70 or 80 per cent. He's about there, but not quite.
"We wish he was fit - he is a key part of the team - but we are handling life without him. It is one of those injuries that has dragged on."
Woodward, like Larder, is taking nothing for granted against Wales, whose coach Steve Hansen plans to announce his starting XV tomorrow.
"I think that in the sanctuary of the Six Nations we are very comfortable playing them in Cardiff and Twickenham, and this is just a complete one-off game. You can't overstate that," Woodward said.
"This is a totally different game, especially with Wales coming off the back of a good performance against the All Blacks, even though they lost.
"It is a very special game, and both teams know that if they get it wrong then you are flying home on Monday, which adds to the whole occasion.
"There is a lot of history between England and Wales, but I would like to think that this England team has moved way beyond that era.
"We have set our stall out over the last three or four years to really target the New Zealanders, Australians and South Africans, and we have got past that psychological hurdle of playing those guys.
"I think that there is a genuine excitement in the camp. I felt earlier on in the tournament before the South African game that the team was a bit anxious, rather than excited," he added.
"We are at our best when we are nervous and excited, and I think that this weekend that is the attitude we have got back into the team."
Meanwhile Neil Back cut through any concern about England not having played at their peak so far in the rugby World Cup when he said: "Win the next three and you're in heaven."
The Leicester flanker was rested for last weekend's cruise past Uruguay with sore ribs he sustained in the intense physical encounter against Samoa.
But he has fully recovered and looked forward to Sunday's clash against a resurgent Wales with trademark England pragmatism.
"Our preparation is the same for every game, the detail the same, against Wales it will be no different," said Back.
"We all strive for the perfect game. We've not done that yet but we've won four out of four and if we win the next three we'll be proud owners of the ulti-mate gold.
"In the previous World Cups the teams that have gone on to win it haven't been brilliant week in and week out, but they've won their games and won the one that matters."
ENGLAND: Lewsey; Robinson, Greenwood, Tindall, Cohen, Wilkinson, Dawson; Leonard, Thompson, Vickery, Johnson (capt), Kay, Moody, Back, Dallaglio. Replacements: West, Woodman, Shaw, Worsley, Bracken, Catt, Balshaw.