Preparations for Japan are well and truly underway for Eddie Jones’ England but how have their August warm-up games gone and what have we learned?
We review where England stand after a thumping win against Ireland, with the start of the 2019 Rugby World Cup less than four weeks away…
England Rugby World Cup Warm-Ups – Five Things We’ve Learned After England vs Ireland
England are hitting their stride at just the right time.
If there was ever a time for England to start moving up a gear in their World Cup preparations, a game against one of their biggest rivals for world domination provided the perfect opportunity. With a much stronger starting XV in place in comparison to the defeat to Wales, Eddie Jones’ side delivered in spades. Eight tries and a swashbuckling attacking display in a thumping 57-15 win suggests the head coach now has the luxury of some selection headaches as he fine-tunes his preparations.
Manu Tuilagi adds the muscle.
A powerhouse performance from Tuilagi against Ireland will give Jones renewed hope the talismanic 28-year-old is now injury-free and ready to dominate on the world stage. Tuilagi showed few signs of fatigue as he helped England overrun Ireland. Encouragingly, Jones also believes his midfield weapon is still only 80% fit. With a few more weeks to go to get in prime shape for Japan, a fully firing Tuilagi could be a gamechanger for England.
The Ford-Farrell double act rises again.
It’s a double act that hasn’t always hit the high notes, but against Ireland there were signs that the Ford-Farrell axis still has legs if Jones wants to pursue that approach. The two arguably benefited from the physical presence of Tuilagi alongside them to allow themselves a new lease of life to dictate matters. With Henry Slade and Piers Francis also likely to be in the mix in Japan, Jones suddenly has some strength in depth to call upon in a traditional problem area for England.
Eddie Jones could have a scrum-half problem to solve.
Some pundits expressed surprise that Jones only named two scrum-halves for a potential six-week, seven-game war of attrition in Japan. The Australian may be ruing that decision after an erratic performance from Ben Youngs, one defined by sloppy decision-making in possession. After opting to omit the experienced Danny Care and Richard Wrigglesworth, Jones is surely hedging his bets that understudy Willi Heinz can step up when needed in Japan.
Joe Schmidt has some thinking to do.
With the caveat that Ireland are at an earlier stage in their World Cup preparations, outgoing head coach Schmidt must have had a few sleepless nights after a display dominated by defensive errors. On that evidence, a Hollywood ending to his coaching career won’t be on the cards in Yokohoma on 2nd November. Continuing speculation over Rory Best’s future as captain hasn’t helped matters, but taking the positives, Schmidt still has enough time on his side to iron out the most glaring mistakes from that performance ahead of their opener against Scotland on 22nd September.
Rugby World Cup odds – current prices with Marathonbet
England to win – 9/2
Ireland to win – 8/1
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