If England had kicked for the corner against Wales at Twickenham and got a try, Chris Robshaw would be being called inspirational on all the back pages. If England had kicked it over and taken a draw, no doubt people would have criticised them for not going to the corner. Everyone can sit back at home and make a judgement after the event. That’s easy. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Robshaw went with his gut, he trusted his instinct and it almost paid off. The decision was challenging, brave and it has to be admired. It was a good decision, despite the three point defeat.
Everyone has a role to play in this World Cup – whether it’s the media or former professionals not directly involved in the competition. Former Irish international Gordon D’Arcy is never going to give a positive quote on England, and it’s never going to be a fair reflection. His priorities have to lie with Ireland, and that’s his prerogative. What he was quoted in the papers as saying isn’t accurate, Sam Burgess wasn’t embarrassing at all in the Wales game. A lot of other pundits and a lot of other reports from people who watched the game said that he played well. He did a great job at 12 with all the pressure that was put on him. He’ll be disappointed to be dropped this week against Australia, but he’ll bounce back.
It’s great that Darcy is adding fuel to the fire and sparking debate, but you can’t seriously believe that that is what he truly believes. Putting more pressure on England this weekend helps Ireland. It not only adds to the rivalry, but in the long run, England stumbling is beneficial to Ireland’s World Cup chances. Don’t read into what Darcy said, Burgess had a very good game.
Owen Farrell, Sam Burgess and Brad Barritt have all played some great stuff in training and in big matches. All three of them have that big game mentality. People will argue that there are better technical rugby players, but manager Stuart Lancaster went with his instinct and all three played well against a very physical Wales side.
These comments won’t get any attention in the England camp. Journalists have a job to sell papers, and if they can make their report a little bit more controversial, then they will. The players won’t be paying any attention to this, they’ll just be focussed on the Australia.
England’s players know what they can do, and they only just touched the tip of the iceberg against Wales. They didn’t quite put the nail in the coffin, but if it all clicks together on Saturday, Australia won’t have an answer.
Not one Australian would get into that England team right now.
The Aussies will be fired up, but when it comes down to it, head-to-head England are too strong. England’s defensive structure combined with the attacking weapons they have at their disposal make it hard to see past an England win.
The scrum is a massive part of the match this weekend, as the battle between the two 10s and two 9s. Potentially the two best number nines in the world will be going up against each other in Ben Youngs and Nick Phipps so that will be very decisive, as will the match-up between Farrell and Bernard Foley. They both have big game temperaments and huge ability, so it should be a fiery encounter.
Stuart Lancaster has the English players believing in themselves, and it is set up for a potentially fantastic England performance.
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